Sergeant Henry James Nicholas VC

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    New Zealand’s Ambassador to Belgium Peter Kennedy, took part in a plaque unveiling ceremony to honour New Zealand World War I soldier Sergeant Henry James Nicholas VC in West Flanders, Belgium, (14 September 2008).

    Sgt Nicholas was the first soldier from New Zealand’s Canterbury Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross. The plaque is close to the spot where he won the Victoria Cross on 3 December 1917.

    Under heavy fire, he singlehandly destroyed a 16-man machine gun post during an advance on Polderhoek Chateau. Subsequently promoted to sergeant, he died near Le Quesnoy, France, on 23 October 1918, days before World War I ended.

    The plaque was erected by the Community of Zonnebeke and New Zealand’s Embassy in Brussels. It is one of three plaques the Embassy has arranged unveilings to commemorate New Zealand Division soldiers who won the Victoria Cross on Belgian soil.

    The ceremonies are an opportunity also to remember the nearly 5000 kiwis killed in Belgium during World War I.

    Following the unveiling ceremony attendees visited two dug-outs in Polygon Wood built by New Zealand engineers in 1917, and walked to the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing at Buttes New British Cemetery for a Memorial Service.

    London-based New Zealand Defence Force personnel, members of the Maori cultural group Ngati Ranana, and New Zealand piper Paul Turner participated in both the unveiling ceremony and the Memorial Service.

    The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing at Buttes has the names of 378 New Zealand Division soldiers who died in the Polygon Wood sector between September 1917 and May 1918, and who have no known grave.

    Sgt Nicholas was the third New Zealand Division serviceman to win the Victoria Cross in Belgium during 1917.

    The first was Lance Corporal Samuel Frickleton at Mesen/Messines and the second Lance Corporal Leslie Wilton Andrew (later Brigadier) at La Basseville, near Messines.

    A plaque honouring Samuel Frickleton was unveiled by New Zealand Government Minister Annette King during the 90th Commemorations at Mesen/Messines in 2007.

    The plaque honouring Leslie Andrew VC, DSO, unveiled at Comines-Warneton on 26 October 2008.

    A statue of Henry Nicholas was unveiled near Christchurch’s Bridge of Remembrance in New Zealand in March last year (2007). The statue is one-third larger than life size and the figure stands on a two-metre-high base and includes stones from Le Quesnoy and the Polderhoek Chateau area of Flanders.

    The plaque for New Zealand World War I Victoria Cross soldier, Sergeant Henry James Nicholas.

    Attached Files:

  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Henry James Nicholas

    Birth - Jun. 11, 1891
    Death - Oct. 23, 1918

    World War I Victoria Cross Recipient.
    A native of Lincoln, Canterbury, New Zealand, he was serving as a Private with the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment, NZEF, at Polderhoek Château, Belgium, when he performed the deeds on December 3, 1917, for which he was awarded the V.C. From his citation: "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack. Pte. Nicholas, who was one of a Lewis gun section, had orders to form a defensive flank to the right of the 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 twenty-five yards, Pte. Nicholas rushed forward alone, shot the officer in command 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 machine gun. He captured this strong point practically single-handed, and thereby saved many casualties. Subsequently, when the advance had reached its limit, Pte. Nicholas collected ammunition under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. His exceptional valour and coolness throughout the operations afforded an inspiring example to all." By June of 1918 Nicholas had been promoted to Sergeant. He was awarded a Military Medal on October 14, 1918, “for acts of gallantry in the field” and killed in action on October 23 at the Escallion Bridgehead near Le Quesnoy, France, as he was demanding the surrender of a group of German soldiers. His V.C. and M.M. are on display at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    In March 2007 Henry James Nicholas VC, MM, was publicly recognised for the first time in New Zealand in a sculpture near the Christchurch Bridge of Remembrance which in turns commemorates so many of his comrades and fellow countrymen who lost their lives in the two world wars.

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