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…)
One year ago, I published I wear the ring and publicly announced the availability of this digital memorial to the Citadel Men interred and memorialized here in 16 military cemeteries across Europe and North Africa.
It has been a year of vibrant impressions and one of the most spiritually and emotionally enriching years of my life. As I have tried to get to know these men and to share their stories, I have had the pleasure of making many new friends, and reconnecting with old friends, here in Europe and in America. So many warm and incredible people have touched my life this year. For this, I am truly grateful.
I have compiled my Top Ten Memories. Here is our story as I experienced it the past 12 months…
– Into Thy Hands O Lord –
A few days after “going public”, I received an email from an alumnus. A few weeks later, I flew over the North Sea to visit Cambridge American Cemetery in England with him, two of his sons, and the historian of “The Bloody 100th”. It was an inspirational and moving experience that I shall never forget. Together, we paid our respects to the three Citadel Men resting in peace and the one memorialized on the Wall of the Missing. Together, we recited The Cadet Prayer.
On that day, I began a new phase in this journey. See my post The Major of St. Lo.
– Memorial Day –
During Memorial Day weekend, I visited the Citadel Men resting in peace at the Netherlands and Henri-Chapelle American Cemeteries. The two cemeteries are located just 20 kilometers from each other, one on either side of the Dutch-Belgian border to the east of Maastricht and Liege in the direction of Aachen, Germany.
An alumnus wrote to me several times during April and May, “Don’t forget those who are still Missing-In-Action!”. In remembrance of the eight men who rest in no known grave here in Europe and North Africa, I laid flowers at the grave of an unknown a few meters from Albert S. Hagood, Class of 1931. They are not forgotten.
– Faces and Stories –
Since last April, I have received details about our men from many places – alumni, family, their “adopters”, historians, and archivists. Four men have received the attention of several posts. Their names, faces, and stories have become familiar. (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.
Last week, in memoriam pages were created for the three Citadel Men who died fighting in France during World War I and who now rest there…
1LT JOHN HODGES DAVID, JR., Class of 1914
LT WILLIAM MONTAGUE NICHOLLS, Class of 1912
1LT WILLIAM ALLSBROOK MULLOY, Class of 1909
With their inclusion, The Citadel Memorial Europe website contains records for all the 50 Citadel Men interred or memorialized in 15 American Cemeteries in Europe and North Africa and the one Citadel Man memorialized at a British Commonwealth Cemetery.
During World War I, 316 Citadel graduates and an undetermined number of alumni served in Europe. The entire Citadel Class’s of 1917 and 1918 eventually served in the armed forces. Nine Citadel Alumni are known to have sacrificed their lives to hostile or accidental friendly fire on the battlefield. A brief history of The Citadel during WWI is available here.
Born on Christmas Day 1892, 1Lt. David, a native of Dillon, S.C., was the first South Carolina officer, and the first Citadel graduate, to be killed in action with the American forces in France on March 1, 1918. He was 25 years old and in the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. He rests in peace in St. Mihiel American Cemetery located 29 miles south of Verdun, France. The WWI cemetery has 4,153 graves of which 117 are “Unknowns”. Another 284 Americans are memorialized on Tablets of the Missing.