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NICHOLAS, V.C.

A HERO OF THE N.Z. DIVISION. VAN IMPRESSIVE BURIAL.

By the mail from oversea which recently reached Christchurch, Mrs ItNicholas, 35 Berry street, St. Albans, received from the Rev. G. T. Robson, chaplain, Ist Canterbury Infantry Battalion, a letter containing an account of the "burial of Private Henry James Nicholas, V.C. The letter, which was written from Franco,. and dated October 30th, 1918, reads as follows: "There is no doubt that others from this battalion have written to you Due even so I feel that I must pen you these few lines to express my true and heartfelt sympathy for you in the loss of your dear son. And, moreover, perhaps the others have overlooked one or two things which I think you would like to know. It was during our great advance <m the night of October 23rd that he fell in action while gallantly holding a very important position —that of noiaing a bridge-head. He. was killed instantly by German machine-gun bullets, so it is» somewhat consoling to know that he did not suffer in any way. Two daysi later we laid his body to rest in the French cemetery at Bcaudignies, where be fell; this had to be done at the time, on account of the great danger due to shellfire being impossible to gather a number of men together, and also that! the battalion was likely to move at a,ny j moment: but when it was found later that we were to oome out, and as the battalion wished to show its great respect to its V.C. hero I had his bodv* exhumed and brought down to the village of Vertigneul, where he was bunedi with full military honours in the churchyard of that village, and by the Bishop of Nelson—Dr. Sadlier. All the lsb Canterbury Battalion were present, also our Brigadier. General Young. The C.O. (Major Stitt), Captain Johnston (O.C. 12th Company), and two 12th Company sergeants were the pallbearers. And just at the conclusion or the service the firing party, which consisted of men of your son's company, fired the volley., and then the bugler sounded the 'Last Post.' It was an| impressive ceremony; and thus was laid to rest one of the heroes of the New Zealand Division. It is not for me to write of his gallantry, his daring, his pluck his dauntless spirit; I leave thatl for a far more able pen; but I thinln his two decoratiohs speak for themselves, especially tho Victoria Cross, the highest honour which a man can win in the British Army. My heart) goes out to you in your great loss, which you, as his mother, can alone understand and realise. May God in His infinite love oomfort and sustain 'you— Yours sincerely, G. T. Robson, Chaplain Ist Canterbury Infantry Battalion." By the same mail Mrs Nicholas received a letter from her son, written a few days before ho fell in action. Private Nicholas was awarded the Victoria Cross for most oonspicuous bravery' and devotion to duty in attack," in the following circumstances: Private Nicholas, who was one of a Lewis gun section, had orders to form a defensive flank to the right of tho advance, which was subsequently checked) by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from an enemy strong point. Whereupon, followed by the remainder of his section at an interval of about twentyfive yards, Private Nicholas rushed forward alone, shot the officer in conjmand of the strong point, and overcame the remainder of the garrison of sixteen by means of bombs and bayonet, capturing four wounded prisoners and a machinegun. He captured this strong point practically single-handed, and thereby saved many casualties.

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NICHOLAS, V.C. Press, Volume LV, Issue 16424, 18 January 1919

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