Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Hautrage Military Cemetery, Belgium

This is a large cemetery containing 773 graves: 235 British and 538 German. 175 of the British are named the remainder “Known Unto God“.

The Cemetery was started by the Germans in 1914 and used by them to bury British casualties. It was used in again in 1918 to bring together burials from different parts of the battlefield.

Hautrage Military Cemetery contains just 1 soldier of the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, but a very large majority of the others buried here were killed in action on 23rd or 24th August 1914 during the ‘Retreat from Mons‘.

Private 5259 William NICHOLSON – Company n/k

Grave:  I. A. 13.  Killed in Action: 24 August 1914    Age: 30

Personal: William was born in the June quarter 1883 (baptised 8th July 1883 at St. Peter’s Church, Teddington) at 3 American Buildings, Broad Street, Teddington, Middlesex, the youngest son of 11 children of the late Charles (Gardener) and Jane (née Harms) Nicholson.

His elder siblings were Henry William, Charles Thomas, Margaret Elinor Louise, Herbert Edward, Thomas Herbert Emmanuel, Annie Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Alice, and twins, John Montague [see Footnote below] and Bertha (1891 Census RG 12/618). Their father, Charles, died in 1890 when William was only 6 years old.

In November 1916 and February 1917, after William’s death on War Service, his total effects were shared out equally between his 6 surviving brothers and sisters. The total was £27 9s 2d (£27.46 – equivalent to about £3,000 today – 2023). In December 1919 a War Gratuity of £5 (£330 today) was paid to his sister, Annie, and nephew, Charles.

Military Service: Currently his Army records are unavailable, and do not appear to have survived the Second World War bombing; all that is known is that William enlisted at Chester.

William’s Medal Index Card shows that at the outbreak of War William  entered France on 16th August 1914 and in view of his eligibility for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal must have been serving at the time.

William was killed in action on 24th August 1914 during the Battalion’s stand at Audregnies. Unfortunately, his name did not appear on the published Battalion List, so it is not known in which part of the action he was located.

N.B. William had received his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, awarded to men who had completed 18 years of irreproachable service. William was only 34 when he was killed, so must have enlisted when only 16 and served for over half of his life with the Colours.

William’s older brother served as Bmbd. (Sgt.) 13333 John Montague Nicholson in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1917.

GraveJohn originally enlisted at Warrington on 15th December 1902 for 12 years (3 years ‘Active’ Service + 9 years on Reserve), so was only 4 months from the end of his service when War was declared. He was recalled and served in France with the BEF.

He was on demobilisation leave at home when he died of pneumonia on 21st February 1919. He had served 16 years 71 days with the Regiment.


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