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Sergeant John Thomas Nicholls DCM.

British Army Welsh Fusiliers 9th Btn.

from:St Helens

Sgt Nicholls was my great-grandfather, a coal miner from St Helens, Lancashire. He volunteered for service in 1914 and sailed for France on 19/7/15.

On 28th August, 1917, the following appeared in the London Gazette: "13621 Sjt. J. T. Nicholls, R. W. Fus. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He reached the enemy's lines some distance ahead of his assaulting platoon, whereupon he attacked twenty of the enemy single-handed, bayoneted three of them and kept the rest prisoners until the arrival of his platoon. He later showed marked ability and coolness in assisting his company commander under heavy shell fire."

I am not certain of where this action took place, but as it usually took around 3 months for medal awards to appear in the Gazette, there is a good chance it was at Messines. Later in the war, John was posted as missing on 13/05/18, but there is no record of him having been a POW, so it is possible he managed to return to his unit- this being in the midst of the German Spring Offensives. He ws discharged on 25/3/19 and returned to St Helens and mining. He died in 1945, aged 59, leaving behind his wife Sarah and six daughters, including my grandmother, Ada.

Chris Fyles

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