Henry James Nicholas
Henry James Nicholas was a New Zealand recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, which he received during the First World War.
He was born in Lincoln, near Christchurch in New Zealand on 11 June 1891. He was educated at schools in Christchurch, first at Christchurch Normal School and later at Christchurch East School. After completing his schooling, he was apprenticed to become a builder
In February 1916, Nicholas joined the New Zealand Military Forces, as a carpenter. He worked for Europe three months later with the 13th Reinforcements to join the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in France. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment with the rank of private
Nicholas was involved in an attack on Polderhoek Chateau on 3 December 1917. The chateau was atop the Polderhoek Spur, which overlooked the trenches occupied by the 2nd Infantry Brigade, to which Nicholas's battalion was subordinate. The Canterbury battalions attacked midday but was slowed by heavy machine-gun fire. It was then that Nicholas performed the actions that led to the award of the Victoria Cross.
Private Nicholas, who was one of a Lewis gun section, had orders to form a defensive flank to the right of the advance, which was checked by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from an enemy strong-point. Whereupon, followed by the remainder of his section at an interval of about 25 yards, Private Nicholas rushed forward alone, shot the officer in command of the strong-point, and overcame the remainder of the garrison of sixteen with bombs and bayonets, capturing four wounded prisoners and a machine-gun. He captured this strong-point practically single-handed, and thereby saved many casualties.
After that, during the Hundred Days Offensive Nicholas won the Military Medal (MM) for actions performed in late September to early October during...