A/203426 Rifleman Ernest Nicholes, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Born 1886 at Ward’s Hurst Farm, Ringshall
Killed in Action 24th October 1917 in France
Ernest was the 3rd of the 4 children of Charles Henry Nicholes and Annie Elizabeth née Coltman. His father was the farmer at Ward’s Hurst Farm, Ringshall, which was in Ivinghoe parish. Ernest was baptised in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 22nd August 1886. His older sister Edith was born 22nd September 1881, his older brother Charles Edward on 3rd January 1883 and his younger brother William Albert on 22nd July 1890.
Ernest attended Little Gaddesden School. The School Log Book entry for 2nd February 1900 noted that he was absent and seriously sick with inflammation of the lungs. On 11th January 1901 he left school, aged 14; he had reached Standard 6 and was going to Aylesbury to be apprenticed to a Draper.
The 1901 Census shows Ernest as a 14 year old Draper’s Apprentice, living at 28 Market Square, Aylesbury.
By 1911 he was a Draper’s Assistant in London, living in a group residence at 112 Gower Street, St Pancras, London.
Military Service 7
Ernest enlisted into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) in London and was attached to the 1/16th Battalion, London Regiment (The Queen’s Westminster Rifles) at the time of his death.
On 24th October 1917, 31 year old Ernest was killed in action in France.
Burial in France 8
Ernest is buried in Louverval Military Cemetery, Doignies, Nord, France (Grave reference B6) – half way between Bapaume and Cambrai – https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/267510/nicholes,-ernest/ . Beneath the badge of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps is the inscription:
King’s Royal Rifle Corps
24th October 1917 Age 31
Beneath the cross on the headstone are the words “Thy will be done”.
We will remember them 9
Ernest Nicholes is commemorated on the Ivinghoe War Memorial, located in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Ivinghoe. He is also named on the First World War Rolls of Honour in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden, where his family worshipped. His younger brother William A Nicholes, who survived the First World War, is also named on the Little Gaddesden Rolls of Honour, serving in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry; he subsequently transferred to the Army Service Corps. Ernest was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
Ernest is commemorated on his parents’ grave, in the old churchyard in Little Gaddesden, North of the vestry extension.
The inscription reads, on the East faces:
In loving memory of
Charles Henry Nicholes
who passed away Feb 5th 1937
aged 82 years
23 years Churchwarden of this Church
also Annie Elizabeth beloved wife of the above
who passed away May 10th 1938
aged 87 years
and on the North faces:
their second son
who was killed in action
Ernest is named on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour but is not named on the Church or Village War Memorials in Little Gaddesden because, although his family worshipped in Little Gaddesden Church, their farm at Ward’s Hurst, Ringshall was in Ivinghoe parish. For this reason, he is commemorated on Ivinghoe War Memorial.
The King’s Royal Rifle Corps Memorial at Winchester 10
A Memorial Card, illustrating the King’s Royal Rifle Corps Statue erected in the Close at Winchester Cathedral “In memory of those gallant Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Riflemen who fell during the Great War 1914-1918” has been passed down through the family of another Little Gaddesden man of the KRRC who was killed in the First World War: Arthur Bertram Gentle.
The rifleman on the statue is in full service dress with a Lee-Enfield rifle by his side. The Memorial was unveiled on 24th May 1922 by Prince Henry, “lately 2nd Lieutenant in the Regiment, and third son of H.M The King, Colonel in Chief” and bears no names. Its inscription today reads “To the glory of God and in memory of the Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Riflemen of The King’s Royal Rifle Corps who gave their lives for their King and Country in the Great War 1914-1918 and 1939-45”.
A Roll of Honour is held within the Cathedral. The names of all Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Riflemen of the Regiment who fell in the Great War are listed in alphabetical order with their dates of death “engrossed on vellum… and bound in a large volume”. “A beautiful work of art, it lies in an oaken case resting upon a stone plinth between two of the columns in the Nave of the Cathedral.” One of those named is Rifleman Ernest Nicholes. This Roll was unveiled the same day as the statue by H.R.H. Princess Beatrice, whose son Prince Maurice of Battenberg was a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion and killed leading his Platoon on 27th October 1914, the first day of the First Battle of Ypres.
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
10. Memorial Card commemorating the unveiling of the KRRC Statue and Roll of Honour at Winchester Cathedral, 24th May 1922.
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson