William Albert Nicholes, Hertfordshire Yeomanry; R387454 Army Service Corps
Born on 22nd July 1890 at Wards Hurst Farm, Ivinghoe
Died on 1st September 1965 in Ivinghoe Aston
William Albert Nicholes was born at Wards Hurst Farm in Ivinghoe parish, the youngest of the four children of Charles Henry Nicholes and Annie Elizabeth née Coltman. He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 23rd November 1890.
He had three older siblings: Edith, born on 22nd September 1881, Charles Edward, born on 3rd January 1883 and Ernest Nicholes, born 12th June 1886
The family farmed Wards Hurst Farm in Ivinghoe Parish but worshipped in Little Gaddesden Church, where William’s father was Churchwarden for 23 years. William and his siblings attended Little Gaddesden School.
William started in the Infant Department of Little Gaddesden School on 22nd April 1895, when he was 4 years 9 months old. Reginald Purton started on the same day. The spelling of William’s surname was inconsistent; it was sometimes recorded as “Nicholls” or “Nichols”.
The Little Gaddesden School Log Book then records several instances of illness for William.
3rd December 1895:
A note from Mr Nichols that his boy has ‘broken out with large red spots’ i.e. evidently another case of Chickenpox.
14th January 1896:
There is too much reason to fear that Whooping Cough is spreading amongst us now that Chickenpox is leaving us – Received a message this morning that Willie Nichols has it without doubt.
27th June 1898:
A letter from Mr Nicholls saying his little boy Willie is suffering from Neuralgia and not able to attend School.
26th November 1901: Afternoon
“Mr Nicholes has sent word to say Willie has Measles.” The outbreak started in October and, by late November Measles, then a very serious illness, affected many of the children. The School remained open until 9th December. However, with only 37 children present out of over 130, the Rector then decided to close the school until 30th December.
A Distinction in Religious Knowledge 6
Little Gaddesden School had a Diocesan Inspection in January or February each year, during which the children were examined in Religious Knowledge. The names of those children who distinguished themselves in this examination are recorded in the School Log Book. William’s name is included in January 1903.
William Nicholes left Little Gaddesden School from Standard 7; his departure was noted on 24th April 1906, after the Easter Holiday. He was then 15 years 9 months old, significantly older than most other leavers. As a young child he had periods of illness and struggles with writing and spelling, which may help explain his late leaving date.
After leaving school, William joined his father and his brother Charles working on Wards Hurst Farm. His brother Ernest Nicholes, however, left home to become a Draper.
On the original Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour, William’s unit is listed as the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. However, no record of that service has been found and the lack of medal records suggests that he served entirely in the UK. Then, on the Autumn 1918 Absent Voters’ list for Ivinghoe, his entry reads “Nicholes, William Albert, Wards Hurst Farm, R 387454 S.S., A.S.C.”, showing that he transferred to the Army Service Corps Remounts Service. “S.S.” is an abbreviation of his rank; the exact meaning is unclear but this is possibly Staff Sergeant. (Absent Voters’ list entries were completed by a soldier’s family at home and sometimes included non-standard abbreviations.)
The ASC Remounts Service supplied horses and mules to all other army units. In 1914, one Remount Squadron ran each of the four Remount Depots in the UK. However, during the War, four more main depots and a number of local depots or collection points were set up at home. There were also six depots in France – three Base Depots with a capacity of 2600 animals each and three Advanced Remount Depots, each for 300 animals.
On 24th October 1917, William’s brother A/203426 Rifleman Ernest Nicholes, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action in France aged 31. He is buried at Louverval Military Cemetery, Doignies, Nord, France and the inscription “Thy will be done” is carved on his headstone. He is also remembered on his parents’ grave in the old churchyard of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
William A Nicholes is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. He is shown in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, believed to be the first unit in which he served and he is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. His brother Ernest Nicholes R.I.P., King’s Royal Rifle Corps, is also named on both Rolls.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
After demobilisation, William then returned to Wards Hurst Farm early in 1919 to run the farm with his father and brother Charles. His father Charles Henry Nicholes died aged 82 on 5th February 1937 and his mother Annie Elizabeth, aged 87, on 10th May 1938. They are buried in the old churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden.
William and his brother Charles then continued to run the farm. Neither married and, in the 1939 Register, they are shown as Working Farmers, sharing Wards Hurst Farm with the Jones family. Mr William Thomas Jones was a Commercial Traveller (Grocer) while his wife Amy had “Unpaid Domestic Duties”, indicating that she kept house. Their 26 year old daughter Doreen was in the Women’s Land Army.
However, William’s brother Charles died on 5th September 1940 leaving William as the sole family member left at Wards Hurst. The Bucks Herald of 29th September 1944 included an advertisement listing livestock and farm equipment at Wards Hurst Farm that:
Messrs. W. Brown & Co. have received instructions from Mr. W.A. Nicholes (who is retiring from farming) to sell by auction … on Thursday 5th October 1944 at 11.30 o’clock precisely.
William later moved to live at Ivinghoe Aston Farm, Ivinghoe Aston, Buckinghamshire, the home of his sister Edith, her husband Thomas Ashby and their son Alfred Walter. However, the date of that move is unknown.
William Albert Nicholes, of Ivinghoe Aston Farm, Ivinghoe Aston, died on 1st September 1965, aged 75. Five days later, his funeral service took place at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden. However, the service was taken by the Revd. H. A. Smith, Vicar of Ivinghoe. William is buried in the old churchyard with his brother Charles Edward Nicholes.
William’s National Probate Calendar entry shows that Probate was granted to his nephew Alfred Walter Ashby, Farmer, of Ivinghoe Aston Farm. William’s sister Edith had died in 1961 while Thomas died shortly before William in 1965. However, the Ashby family still farm Ivinghoe Aston Farm.
2. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
5. Herts Family History Society (1995) Hertfordshire Monumental Inscriptions, Little Gaddesden, The Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul. MI. Series No. 49
6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
12. Little Gaddesden Burial Register 1937, 1938, 1940, 1965
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson