From The Spartanburg Herald, Spartanburg, South Carolina, Friday Morning, October 1, 1915, Page 1…
LIEUT. NICHOLLS MEETS DEATH IN BATTLE IN FRANCE
Spartanburg Boy, Fighting Under British Flag, Killed in Action September 26th-27th.
MAY BRING REMAINS HERE FOR INTERMENT
Last Letter From Young Officer, Dated Sept. 13, Received Here Tuesday
W. Montage Nicholls, [Citadel Class of 1912] second lieutenant in the royal field artillery of the British army and a son of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Nicholls, of this city, was killed in battle the 26th or 27th of September , according to a cable received yesterday morning by his father from the British war office in London.
Lieutenant Nicholls had been in service with the British army for about a year. Practically all of his active service on the battle front was in France, where he was sent with his corps during February of this year. He was wounded in the fighting around Neuve-Chapelle on March 21, but was sent back to the front in France about the first of last July, since which time he had been actively engaged. While no details are known here, it is believed that he fell during the fighting in the region around Hulluch and Loos. [Battle of Loos 1915]
The cable announcing the death reads as follows:
“Deeply regret to inform you that Second Lieut. W. M. Nicholls, R. F. A., was killed in action between 26 – 27 September. Lord Kitchener expresses sympathy.”
May Bring Body Here.
Shortly after the receipt of this message, Congressman-elect Sam J. Nicholls, brother of the fallen soldier, sent a cable to the British was office asking for fuller information and asking also if arrangements might be made to have the body shipped here for interment. Friends of the family, it is understood, have also wired the United States secretary of state asking assistance in this undertaking. (more…)
In my previous post, I lamented how I had not yet found a picture or portrait clearly identifying
2Lt. William Montague Nicholls, Class of 1912. This was truly frustrating me and causing me many sleepless nights.
I want there to be a face for every Citadel Man interred or memorialized in the military cemeteries of Europe and North Africa, and I want their stories to be told. All the headstones and memorials are beautiful, but they are cold, hard, identical, and overwhelming in numbers. With a photo, each name chiseled into marble, becomes a man, flesh and blood, each with his own unique character and story.
Looking into the faces of these men, I often find myself asking, “God, why did you take him?” “He was too young.” “He was a father.” “He was an only son.” “He was a brother.” By seeking out and pulling together their stories, I am learning of their deeds and their nicknames. I am coming to know them in a personal way, and I shall remember them.
Thus, I persisted, driven in my search, and I am extremely pleased to say that a few days ago I located not only W. Montague Nicholls’ portrait but his entire senior write-up in the Naval Academy’s yearbook.
Montague received an appointment to Annapolis during his second year at The Citadel. He was honorably discharged from the South Carolina Corps of Cadets after his sophomore year and entered the Academy with the Class of 1914 at the beginning of the 1910-1911 academic year.
Yesterday, I was searching for articles about William Montague Nicholls, Class of 1912, the first Citadel Man killed in the First World War. A young man from Spartanburg, South Carolina, he left his father’s law practice in 1914 to join the war in Europe and served in the British Royal Field Artillery. While I found several news articles of interest, the one item that continues to elude me is a picture of him. There should be one of him in the Naval Academy’s 1914 Lucky Bag, but I have not yet found the senior class’s pages digitalized on the web. During his second year at The Citadel, he won an appointment to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and he joined its Class of 1914.
I did find the pages describing the 1913 Army-Navy football game at the Polo Grounds in New York City where “Monty” Nicholls quarterbacked the Navy team. There is a very blurry black and white photograph captioned with “Monty takes 40 yards”, but real details cannot be made out. [Author’s note: Since the original posting of this article, I have found the Lucky Bag page… Montague’s senior page with photo.]
The article that caught my attention and imagination though was Wilton Garrison’s “Sports Shots” column printed the day before the Wofford College homecoming of 1934. Wofford, situated in Spartanburg, would play against The Citadel Bulldog football team.