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Annie Elizabeth Kelly, Sergeant H J Nicholas, VC, 1920

Ref: AAAC 898 NCWA 460

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Henry James Nicholas (1891-1918) was born in Lincoln, Canterbury. He enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in February 1916 with the 1st Canterbury Battalion, and sailed to Europe with the 13th Reinforcements in May 1916. Nicholas was awarded the Victoria Cross for "conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty...exceptional valour and coolness" at Polderhoek, Belgium, on 3 December 1917. He destroyed an enemy strongpoint that was inflicting heavy casualties and overpowered a sixteen-man enemy garrison, capturing four wounded prisoners and an enemy machine-gun.

Promoted to sergeant, Nicholas was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for further acts of gallantry in October 1918. Tragically Sergeant Nicholas was killed a few weeks short of the armistice, on 23 October 1918, in a minor skirmish on a bridge on the St. George River near Le Quesnoy.

A memorial to Henry James Nicholas was unveiled at the Park of Remembrance, Christchurch, in March 2007.

(Posthumous portrait)

Oil, 1230 x 465mm
Western Front
Medals: Victoria Cross, Military Medal

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