Richard "Richie" Edwin Nicholls was born at some point around 1899-1900 (Sources vary) in Victoria, Australia to William [1866-1908] and Ida Theresa [1873-1948] Nicholls. He had 2 older brothers and 3 younger brothers as well as 2 younger sisters. Not much is noted in Richie's early life unfortunately.
Richie enlisted in Melbourne on June 12th, 1916, either way he was a boy soldier and given a serial number, 2761. He was assigned to the A.I.F Training Company on June 27th, and 3 months later assigned to the 3rd Pioneer Battalion, 4th Reinforcements on September 1st. He was transferred to the 2nd Pioneer Battalion apart of the 5th Reinforcements on September 15th. 3 days later, he would embark from Melbourne towards England where he would continue to train for the Pioneers. He would arrive at the Pioneer Training Battalion on November 15th, the same day he arrived in Plymouth. On Christmas Day, 1916 he would be on a fizzer; Specifically it was because he missed a Tattoo Roll Call at Larkhill. For this, he was awarded 3 days Field Punishment No.2 by Major T F Routlidge on December 26th, also forfeiting 3 days pay.
Richie would proceed to France on the final day of 1916. Arriving in France the following day, he went to hospital on January 27th and came back to his unit on March 1st. 3 months later, he would go to hospital with Gonorrhoea [June 2nd], then arriving back on July 27th. It would only take a week before he went into hospital again, arriving back on September 22nd, 1917. Presumably wanting to see frontline duty, he transferred to the 46th Battalion on February 26th, 1918, assigned to 'A' Company. Two month later, he would prove his worth. On April 6th, 1918 he was a Company runner in 'A' Company when he was recommended for the Military Medal. The recommendation reads...
For gallantry as a runner near ALBERT on 6.4.18. Private Nicholls was sent from Company H.Q to Battalion H.Q. at 5a.m. 6.4.18, a distance of 1500 yards with an important message. On his way bac he overtook some exhausted stretcher bearers and assisted them in bringing in a wounded officer. It was daylight before he could return, but he set out saying "My Company Commander will want me". For 800 yards of his return trip he was fully exposed to enemy snipers, and had many narrow escapes. He crawled a long distance taking advantage of shell holes and folds of ground. Snipers fired at him each time he appeared, but he ultimately got to his destination safely. It was a striking instance of devotion to duty.
His Military Medal appeared in the London Gazette on July 16th, 1918 on page 8333 at position 35.
Members of the 46th Battalion coming out of the line, May 1st, 1918.
Newspaper, August 15th, 1918. Benalla Standard.
3 months after he won the Military Medal, he and others in his battalion got 'Blighty Leave' on June 29th. It is known that he visited his relatives, specifically Mr Kerr.
Nicholls, Kerr and Sergeant G.M Jonas. Around July 1918 during Blighty Leave
Unfortunately, this would be the last time he saw England. He rejoined his Battalion a month later in July, then was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal. At the time, he and his battalion were on the attack at a place East of Hamel. The recommendation for the D.C.M reads..
For exceptional bravery and initiative during the attack East of HAMEL, on morning of 8th August 1918. The enemy put up a stiff resistance in a gully near MORCOURT and this man, noticing a group of the enemy putting up a fight collected a small party of men and led them across the gully to cut them off. This brought him and his party under heavy machine gun and rifle fire which prevented further advance. Alone, and with utter disregard of personal safety, this man kept going, and succeeded, with the aid of Lieut DICKINSON, in capturing and taking prisoner several of the enemy. This man's dash and daring was a great stimulus to his comrades. [NOTE: Lieutenant Arthur Schorey Dickinson would survive the war and receive the Military Cross for his actions]
Richie never got to see his Distinguished Conduct Medal, as on August 18th, he would be mortally wounded aged c.18. His red cross reports read he was a Company Runner in A Coy. Private T.W Loe states that he was wounded near Lihons on August 18th at 6p.m by shrapnel via heavy shell fire which hit him in the neck. This was substantiated by Corporal [A.]H. Ploog. A statement by 3510 Deacon states that Richie was wounded on the 17th.
Newspaper, September 5th, 1918. Shepparton Advertiser.
Corporal Ploog in 1918
Nicholl was buried at Chalks Pit by Reverend John Cyril Flood, but was later moved to Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in 1920.
Below are the medals that Nicholls would've been entitled to..
Distinguished Conduct Medal Military Medal British War Medal Victory Medal
Edited by tankengine888