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George was born in Preston in 1888 the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Nichol (nee Maddock). His parents married in the Parish Church of St. John in Preston on the 12th August 1869 and they went on to have a further eight children; Mary Jane (1870), James (1871), Joseph (1876), Elizabeth Alice (1878), John (1879), Thomas (1883), Annie (1886) and William (1889). George`s father was employed as an engine tenter in a mill and in 1891 the family home was in Thomas Street South in the Fishwick area of Preston. By 1901 the family had moved across town to 26 Stourton Street and George together with his brother John and sister Annie were all working in one of the local cotton mills, George as a `reacher`. His father was still an engine tenter and his older brother Thomas was a railway labourer.

The family was still living at the same address in Stourton Street in 1911 but by now only George, Thomas and the youngest William were still living at home with their parents. Thomas was now an engine tenter in a foundry, William was a piercer in one of the mills and George had left mill work behind and was now employed as a flagger and slater. On the 10th August 1911 George married Alice Tucker in St. Andrew`s Church, Ashton on Ribble in Preston. Two years later in the summer of 1913 the couples` first child George was born, according to the records young George was born at Bridgend in south Wales.

George enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on the 31st August 1914 agreeing to serve a term of three years. He was 26 years old and confirmed that he had no previous military experience. The Medical Officer noted that he was 5`7½” tall and had brown hair and grey/brown eyes, his only distinguishing feature was noted as a scar over his left eyebrow. George had a 35” chest and he weighed 140lbs, the M.O. noting that physically he was `well made`. He was issued with the service number 13309 and posted to the 7th Battalion LNL.

On the 28th October 1914 George had to forfeit 7 days’ pay for “refusing to obey an order when on active service” In April 1915 George and Alice had a second child, another son and they named him Stanley. Three months later he was appointed Lance Corporal (unpaid) and then on the 8th July 1915 his promotion to Lance Corporal was confirmed. George embarked for France with the 7th Battalion LNL on the 17th July 1915, the Battalion coming under the Command of 56th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division.

Lance Corporal George Nichol would have been involved in and did survive the majority of the major battles that the 7th Battalion took part in including; Ypres, Loos 1915, Somme, Albert, Bazentin, Ancre Heights, Ancre 1916, then Messines 1917 and Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Poelcappelle and the infamous mud and horrors of Passchendaele. In early February 1918 the 7th Battalion LNL was disbanded in France and the men of the Battalion were despatched to join other Regiments, George himself was posted to the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, joining them in the field in the rank of Lance Corporal on the 10th February 1918. The Battalion War Diary does note that between 10th – 19th February 1918 a detachment of 200 men from the 7th Battalion LNL joined the 1st Battalion. The 1st Battalion at the time was in what was known as the “California dug-outs” situated slightly to the north of Wieltje.

On the 9th April 1918, the German Army launched the second phase of its spring offensive in what would be known officially as the Battle of the Lys (after the nearby river). On the 15th April the 1st Battalion took up defensive positions northwards from Le Bassee Canal, near the hamlet of Le Preol (just to the east of the French town of Bethune).

It had been anticipated that the enemy would attack the 1st Division, which included the 1st Battalion LNL on the 18th April and so at 4.15am the German artillery opened a heavy bombardment along the British front line which increased in intensity until 8am. At this point the German infantry attacked from the north and succeeded in reaching and occupying the main line of resistance before any counter-measures could be taken. “C” and “D” Companies of the 1st LNL then vigorously attacked and eventually succeeded in ejecting the enemy from our main line, so that by 11 o`clock the enemy was in possession of no more than a few isolated posts in the divisional outpost line. The Battalion was finally relieved in the front line on the 23rd-24th April, returning to Houchin by bus.

In these operations the Battalion suffered numerous casualties; 2 Officers and 46 other ranks killed, 5 Officers and 105 men wounded whilst 5 Officers and 189 non-commissioned Officers and men were missing. Sadly, it was during the attack on the 18th April that George was wounded having sustained a gunshot wound to his head. He was taken to 23 Casualty Clearing Station before being transported back down the line to the 1st Canadian Hospital in Etaples. Sadly, George never recovered and he passed away in the hospital on the 4th May 1918.

George was buried with honour in Etaples Military Cemetery;

Photo taken April 2017

In the first quarter of 1919 George`s widow Alice remarried to William Henry Lees at St. Andrew`s Church in Ashton on Ribble. Alice also took receipt of the three medals that George was entitled to, the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals, signing for the medals under her new married name of Lees. She would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

On the first anniversary of George`s death one of his sisters placed the following announcement in the Lancashire Evening Post;

Nichol – In loving memory of my dear brother Lance Corporal George Nichol 1/7 L.N.L. Regiment died of wounds May 4th 1918.

“Forget him? No, we never will

We loved him in life, we love him still;

From memory`s page, we`ll never blot

Three little words; “Forget me not”

From his loving sister, and Alice, and Bill and Family, No. 11 Clara Street, Preston.

George is also remembered on the War Memorial in St. Michael and All Angels Church in Ashton on Ribble;

War Memorial St. Michael and All Angels Church, Ashton on Ribble, Preston

Janet Davis
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