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Source: Leicestershire War Memorials Project. Coalville Times article - Friday August 11th, 1916:
COALVILLE SOLDIER ACCIDENTALLY KILLED
Mr and Mrs Reuben Nicholls, of Ashby Road, Coalville, have been notified that their son, Private James Wm. Nicholls, of the Leicestershire Regiment, has been accidentally killed in France.
The captain of the regiment, writing under date July 28th, states, “I am sorry to have to inform you that your son, Private Nicholls, was killed this afternoon. He was in the trench, cleaning bombs, when one exploded, and killed three men, and wounded several others. It may be some consolation to you to know that your son must have been killed instantly. He was a good soldier, and always did his duty conscientiously. He will be greatly missed in the company. Please accept my deepest sympathy in your great loss.”
A chaplain writing subsequently states: “I feel I must send you a line to tell you how very sorry I am about the accident to your son, Private Nicholls. It will be a comfort to you, and help you to bear your sorrow to know that he died doing his duty, and that his end was sudden and painless. We had a beautiful little service, and buried last night by the side of his three comrades in the little cemetery at _______ under the Union Jack. May God give you courage and comfort in your great loss.”
Private J. W. Nicholls was 30 years of age, and single. Before the war he worked at the South Leicestershire Colliery though he had previously been in the army and had served in India. He was a well-known footballer, in the Coalville Town team. His father has for many years worked at the Snibston pit.
Coalville Times article - Friday October 29th, 1920
RAVENSTONE WAR MEMORIAL
UNVEILED BY MAJOR HATCHETT, J.P.
Few villages, perhaps in proportion to population, suffered more heavily in the war than Ravenstone, where on Sunday afternoon the unveiling took place of a memorial to 28 men of the parish who made the supreme sacrifice. The memorial consists of a cross of Weldon stone, 12ft high, with steps at the base and three panels in Swithland slate bearing the names of the men, and on the front panel appears the inscription
“In glorious memory of the unreturning brave 1914 – 1918”
The names of the fallen are as follows:
L.-Corporal J. C. Andrews, Pte. H. Walker, Corporal P. L. Smith, Pte. G. T. Andrews, Pte. J. Martin, Pte. W. Brooks, Corporal C. Fairbrother, Pte. J. Nicholls, Gunner A. Prew, Pte. S. Poole, Seaman W. Potter, Corporal J. Sinfield, Pte. C. T. Colver, Corporal J. Curtis, Pte. H. Congrave, Corporal J. Collier, L.-Corporal F. Marlow, Pte. J. Watson, Pte. R. Bodle, Pte. W. Glover, Pte. A. R. Brooks, Pte. G. Yates, Pte. J. Knifton, Pte. W. Hill, Pte. C. H. C. Wilson, Rfn. W. Knight, Sergt. J. Hancock and Pte. A. Fowkes.
The cross was designed by Mr T. H. Fosbrooke, architect, of Leicester, whose brother is the Squire of Ravenstone Hall, and it was executed by Mr J. H. Morcomb, also of Leicester. The cost was about £150, which has been defrayed by public subscription.
The memorial stands in a most eminent position in the picturesque churchyard, by the side of the pathway leading to the main entrance of the church, and the unveiling ceremony by Major Hatchett, J.P., in the autumn sunshine, with a huge concourse of people gathered around, formed a very impressive scene.
The proceedings commenced with a service in the quaint old church, which was packed to the doors, many, in fact, being unable to get in. The uplifting strains of the hymn, “O God, our help in ages past,” formed an appropriate commencement, and then followed a form of service, led by the Rector (the Rev. S. Dowling) in which proper Psalms (21 and 121), lessons (Wisdom iii, 1 – 9 and Rev. 21 1 – 7) and prayers were fittingly mingled, each serving to emphasise the leading note of the day. The anthem beautifully rendered by the choir, was taken from the words of the special lesson. “The Souls of the Righteous,” and the sermon was preached by the Rev. J. D. C. Wallace, the Master of Ravenstone Hospital, whose text was Philippians Ic 22v “With Christ, which is far better.” He said that for many centuries in peace and war time that church had stood at Ravenstone, but never before in its history had it seen what stood in its shadow to-day – a beautiful memorial inscribed with the names of nearly 30 Ravenstone boys who gave their lives in the war. Never before was there such a war, and never before was Ravenstone called upon to make such a sacrifice. “We need no monument,” he said, “They are our boys; we know their faces, know their generous dispositions and the fine spirit which sent them forth. All that is enshrined in our memories and nothing can deface it. We need no monument, but there is one outside because there will come after us generations who knew not out boys, and that monument will tell them in years to come what Ravenstone boys did in the hour of England’s peril.”
The memorial, he continued, was a symbol of their faith, of the greatest sacrifice of that Eternal Son of God, Who came from Heaven. It was that supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross that inspired their boys to make their sacrifice upon the altar of patriotism, and it would be acceptable to God. There would be sad thoughts that day, but he asked them to let proud thoughts prevail over the sad ones. They should be proud because they were the parents and friends of such boys – proud because they were not found wanting in the crucial hour, and because a new glory had come to their homes whether it was castle or cottage, the glory of their boys. Then their thoughts should help them to look forward, because the boys had only just passed on before them, called to a nobler work, and presently they would follow them. Let them not also forget the boys who came back. They went to stop the cruel evil and oppression which was threatening the people of this country from abroad. They wanted to ensure a peaceful and happy life for those here at home, believing them to be worthy of it. It was for them to prove that worth during the rest of their lives. If they were to keep up their jealousies and petty grievances the boys would have fought in vain, and there would be no better England. The boys taught them charitableness, unselfishness, and through love to serve one another. Let them take up the task and as they stood around the memorial solemnly pledge themselves before God and their boys that they would fight uncharitableness and selfishness among themselves and try to be more brotherly men and more sisterly women, to stand together for peace and good-will at home as they stood together in awful peril of the war. “That,” he concluded, “is the best tribute we can pay to those gallant boys, and when they see and know that, they will know that they have not died in vain; that we are worthy for whom they did such great things, and they will rest in peace and possess their souls in patience until that glad day when we and they shall meet again in the blessed presence of that one God, the Father and Saviour of us all.”
After the sermon the hymn, “Ten thousand times, ten thousand,” was sung, during which a collection for the memorial fund realised £13/8/3.
A procession was then formed of the choir, clergy, wardens and members of the Memorial Committee, which proceeded to the cross, singing the hymn, “Through the night doubt and sorrow.”
Relatives of the fallen were given a place prominence around the memorial, and the service of dedication, conducted by the Rector, opened with the singing of “When I survey the wondrous Cross.” Having performed the ceremony of unveiling, Major J. Hatchett, J.P., said, “Several years ago, the Rector called a meeting, which appointed a committee to consider and report upon a suitable memorial, to do honour to the memory of the men who died for their country in the great war. The committee were fortunate in having the kind advice and assistance of an eminent architect, who was a native of Ravenstone, and took great interest in the memorial, the result being the placing here of this beautiful monument. The architect’s name is Mr Thomas Fosbrooke, of Leicester, and we have to thank Mr Fosbrooke very much for what he has done. We have today taken part in a solemn service in that venerable church in which so many generations of our fathers have worshipped, and we now are privileged to be assembled here in this acre of sacred ground, the resting place of so many of our beloved dead, for the purpose of discharging the honourable duty of assisting at the dedication of this memorial erected by the people of Ravenstone to the blessed memory of 28 brave men, who loved their country, and gave their lives to save English men, women and children from tyranny and oppression. We all desire to show our unstinted appreciation and our unbounded admiration of the courageous spirit of those fearless men, who, when their country was wantonly attacked, considered it to be a sacred duty to defend it; and this memorial, which has been raised as a tribute of respect, will remind us and those who came after us, our children and our children’s children, of the undaunted courage and the undying fame of those men of Ravenstone who, whilst upholding the honour of the British flag, and sustaining the reputation of the British soldier, sacrificed their lives. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the men who went forth in full health and strength, leaving home, comfort, friends and relatives, to take their places in the battle line to fight in the righteous cause of freedom and justice, against the most cruel, vindictive and treacherous foe the world has ever known. Our sincere, straight-forward, unassuming, determined men, were unafraid and undismayed, although they knew that the Angel of Death was hovering over their path. Their loyal and valued services were very helpful to their country in the hour of her need. We had hoped to witness their return to receive a grateful nation’s recognition and thanks, but the inscrutable degree of Providence ordered it otherwise. They faithfully and manfully performed their duty, they died glorious deaths, they died for England, they died for all of us and the places on the field of honour, where they lie in warriors graves, are hallowed and sanctified by a nation’s grief, and watered by a nation’s tears. We deplore their loss; their splendid examples will remain; their glorious memories will endure. We thank God for such men; and if England’s sons maintain the courage, the devotion and the unselfish patriotism displayed by them, we have no fear for the independence of our race, or for the position of our country and empire amongst the nations of the world. We tender our sincere sympathy to their relatives, trusting that God’s blessing will rest upon them and lighten the burden of their bereavement. Ravenstone is proud of the ever-living memories and the noble deeds of her unreturning immortal heroes, who without fear faced the foe and walked into the valley of the shadow of death, to save the lives, the honour and liberties of those they left behind. These brave British soldiers sill live in our hearts and will not be forgotten; their name liveth for ever. We shall always mention with respect and reverence the names inscribed on this memorial stone, which has been raised to protect their memory, and preserve their story, and remain a lasting monument of their glory. Duty impelled them and they never faltered. There was no need for her to call them twice. The end they saw not, nor would have wished it altered. They took the cross, and made the sacrifice. God grant that we may be found worthy of them, in the days that are to be!”
The dedication of the monument was solemnly performed by the Rector and prayers were followed by the singing of the Doxology.
Two buglers then stepped to the front of the memorial and sounded the “Last Post” and whilst this was in progress, there flew up towards the heavens four homing pigeons released from the hands of the Rev. J. D. C. Wallace, beautifully symbolical of carrying the message of that day’s proceedings.
Many beautiful floral tributes were placed on the memorial by relatives and friends of the deceased men.
Research undertaken and submitted (including photograph from Coalville Times) by Andy Murby 15/10/2017
- Conflict - World War I
- Cause of death - Accidental Bombburst
- Burial Place - U 4, Potijze Burial Ground Cemetery
- Other Memorials - Coalville War Memorial Clock Tower