Percy is first seen on a census in 1901 living with his family at 1, Belgrave Villas, Saltney, Queensferry, Cheshire. Percy’s father William J, 27 was a Cycle Agent who had been born in Rhuddlan, Flintshire. His mother was Jane E (Jessie on subsequent documents), 23 who had been born in Hawarden as were all the rest of the family. Percy H, was 3 and brother John A. was 6 months old. William J’s Sister-in-Law Christiana Wright 14 was in the household.
The 1911 census sees the family living in Queensferry. The form reports that seven children had been born to the marriage but one had died. Father, James 38 was a Cycle Dealer and Jessie Elizabeth assisted in the business. Percy Henry 13, was also ‘assisting in the business’. John Alfred 10, Mary Lavinia 9 and Jessie Irene 6 were all at school. Ethel Constance was 2 and William Norman was 1. There was a servant Mary Emily Keddie 21.
UK soldiers who died in the Great War 1914 -19, accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms the regimental information above and adds that he was born in Hawarden and enlisted in Wrexham.
Percy’s medal card also accessible on ancestry, records his medal details and also tells us that his first theatre of war was the Balkans and that he entered it 28th June 1915
Percy’s British Army WWI Service Records survive and are accessible on www.ancestry .co.uk but they are in very poor condition. However, we can learn some things from them. He attested in Wrexham in August 1914 when he was 19. His trade was ‘ironworker’. He died at No. 2 Australian General Hospital*, Gheyereh, Cairo. – Para Typhoid. There is correspondence between the army and Percy’s father about his medals and his personal property. We can see from a conduct sheet that he got into trouble on a few occasions – being absent, being out of bounds, disorderly conduct – all of which earned him days of being ‘confined to barracks’.
Percy Nichols in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us that the sole Legatee was his father William James who was paid £4. 16s 6d on the 7th February 1916 and his War Gratuity of £4. 10s 0d. This source also tell us the cause of Percy’s death – Typhoid.
* This differs from the Service Records above, but it was written “No. 2 Can. Gen Hop.Cairo” (any help gratefully received) (The Canadian medical services operated 16 General Hospitals by the end of the War. Initially equipped for 520 patients, this was increased in 1915 to 1040, after which they varied in size up to 2300 beds.) http://regimentalrogue.com/misc/researching_first_world_war_soldiers_part13.htm
Percy is commemorated on a gravestone in St Deniol’s Churchyard Hawarden. (St. Deniol’s Churchyard -Monumental Inscriptions Volume 11 – Lovelock.) also remembered on the Imperial War Museum – Memorial Project Website – http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/60286
Description – Double grave with black granite kerbstones. Carved rose and leaves at the top.
In Loving Memory of/ OUR DARLING CECIL, JAMES/ SON OF WILLIAM J, & JESSIE E, NICHOLS/ OF QUEENS FERRY/ WHO DIED JANUARY 12th 1900/ AGED 7 MONTHS./ “HE SHALL GATHER THE LAMBS WITH HIS ARM,/ AND CARRY THEM IN HIS BOSOM.”/ ALSO Pte PERCY NICHOLS, R.W.F./ SON OF THE ABOVE/ WHO DIED IN EGYPT,/ OCT 20th 1915, AGED 18 YEARS/ HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS./ In Loving Memory Of/ FLORA,/ THE BELOVED WIFE OF/ ALFRED NICHOLS,/ DIED NOVEMBER 4th 1937,/ AGED 47 YEARS./ Thy purpose Lord we cannot see,/ But all is well that’s done by Thee.
This suggests that the age on his attestation form in August 1914 was false. He claimed to be 19 then.
Percy is mentioned in the Book “Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1918 Royal Welsh Fusiliers Volume 28”. :- 8th Bn NICHOLS, Percy. Born Hawarden, Flintshire. Enlisted Wrexham, Residence Queensferry, Flintshire. 11536 Pte. Died Gallipoli 20th October 1915.
Percy was named on 4 other memorials – the Hawarden War Memorial, the memorial screen at St Ethelwold’s Church, Queensferry Roll of Honour & Queensferry School Plaque. Somebody made an effort to ensure he was remembered.
Flintshire Observer 4th November 1915