The Story & Memorabilia of Wilfred Nicholson

Private 47473-7th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry- Wilfred Nicholson was born in Hampole, near Doncaster, on 20th August 1893. He was the fifth child of William and Annie Nicholson. After leaving school he became a miner at Rossington Colliery and was involved in the sinking of the new pit. At the time of his marriage he was a banksman at the colliery.

His parents lived at Hesley Hall estate gatehouse, where his father was a shepherd. Wilfred married Edith (Edie) Maughan from Lincolnshire. Edie was in service at Mount Pleasant on Bawtry Road and after their marriage they lived in Sunderland Street, Tickhill. Wilfred enlisted in the army and joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He was then sent to France where he fought alongside his friends.

On 2nd April 1918 during the spring campaign of the Somme offensive, he was with Tickhill man, George Stubbings, they were running to cross a road when Wilfred was hit by a shell and was killed instantly. At the time of his death Wilfred was attached to the 7th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. Private Wilfred Nicholson has no known grave and is commemorated on panels 59 and 60 of the Pozieres War Memorial near Albert in France. He is also commemorated on the War Memorial in St Mary’s Churchyard in Tickhill. Wilfred left behind his widow Edie and his two children. His obituary from his parents in the Doncaster Gazette dated 17 May 1918 states that three of his four brothers were also serving the army in France. They all survived the war.

Submitted by Lesley Nicholson

Wilfred Nicholson's Medals

Title: Wilfred Nicholson's Medals
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Wilfred Nicholson's Memorial Plaque

Title: Wilfred Nicholson's Memorial Plaque
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Letter received by Wilfred Nicholson's next of kin

Title: Letter received by Wilfred Nicholson's next of kin
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Conisbrough confectioner Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor was born in Conisbrough in 1882. Age 19, Tom was working as a bakers apprentice and living with his family at 64 Doncaster Road, Conisbrough. By 29, he was living as a boarder at 22 Castle Terrace, Conisbrough and working a baker and confectioner in a family shop. A year later, in 1912, Tom married his wife Elizabeth in.

Tom enlisted in December 1915 and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and served for the duration of the war. While he was on active service, his two sons Norman and Clifford, (pictured) were born. Tom won a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) in 1918. The Doncaster Gazette reported in April 1918 ‘154703 Gunner T. Taylor, R.G.A. (Conisbrough).. When the battery retired he stayed behind with another man defending the stores. When surrounded by seven of the enemy they killed two and captured the remaining five. They fought throughout the day, and advanced with the attacking troops in the evening.’

Tom survived the war and returned to Doncaster. He died in 1937.

Story submitted by Tom’s grandson, Alan Taylor.

Denaby Soldier William Howell Powell Westwood

William Howell Powell Westwood was born in Langley Green, Worcester in 1882. He lived in places such as Denaby and Conisbrough where he was working as a Coal Mine Pony Driver. In 1909 he married Annie Eliza Denham with whom he had four children (Elizabeth, Rose, Emily and Willie). At some point he played for Bristol Rovers, although it’s unclear how he ended up in Bristol!

William enlisted in Strensall, Yorkshire into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as #241454 Corporal William Howell Powell Westwood.

On the 3rd of May 1917 William was killed in action, and his personal effects were given to his children.

Thank you to Angie Rankin for submitting his story. William’s daughter Lizzie, whose postcard is below, is Angie’s Grandmother.

On the Bristol Rovers photograph, William can be seen on the top row, second from right.

William Westwood - Postcard

Title: William Westwood - Postcard
Description: Sent to his daughter Lizzie by-nc

William Westwood - Postcard

Title: William Westwood - Postcard
Description: Reverse of postcard sent to Lizzie by-nc


American Soldier Oscar Hurt

Oscar Hurt was born in 1889 and died in 1978. He was originally from Tennessee but it was in Detroit, Michigan where he joined the US army.

He was enlisted in Michigan and later went back to Tennessee. He was in the Rainbow Division (42nd Infantry Division). He was gassed and suffered mental repercussion.

Submitted by Shiela North

Oscar Hurt's Helmet

Title: Oscar Hurt's Helmet
Description: Submitted by Sheila North by-nc

K.O.Y.L.I. Survivor James Dyson

James Dyson was born in 1892 in Crowle, Lincolnshire. He grew up with his family in Newbigg, in a large family of nine children. By 1911 he had moved to White House, Amcotts (now Scunthorpe) where he worked as a waggoner on a farm, employed by John Waterland.

On 5th March 1915 he entered France, where he served with the 1st and 8th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. His service number was 20249. He is pictured on the bottom right, in a K.O.Y.L.I group photo with their dog, Peter. One of his hobbies while in the army was boxing.

James survived the War, and was moved to the Reserves on 6th March 1919, to be called up in case of the re-outbreak of war. After his time at war, he became a Special Constable. It’s rumoured that he may have qualified as a teacher, although nobody in the family is sure.

James was killed in an accident at Levels farm, Westwoodside in 1949.

Submitted by: Jane Harrison

James Dyson's Medals

James Dyson’s Medals

James Dyson's KOYLI Photo

K.O.Y.L.I group photo. James is directly behind the Officer in the centre.


Doncaster man William Boddy in the Durham Light Infantry

William Boddy was born in 1898 in Doncaster to John and Rebecca Boddy. His family lived at South Street, Doncaster and his father worked as Railway Shunter.

He joined the army on 31st of August 1916 when he was 18 years old where his job was a messenger.  William was a member of the 4th battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and joined the 2nd Battalion on February 1918.

William Boddy was killed in action on the 21st  of March 1918. Williams name appears on the Arras Memorial.

John Boddy's Letters

Title: John Boddy's Letters
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John Boddy's Letters

Title: John Boddy's Letters
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Submitted by John Boddy

Gainsborough man Private Fred Pearson and a German helmet

Fred Pearson lived in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. He was a private in the East Yorkshire Regiment. Private Pearson  was at the Battle of Passchendaele Ridge where he was captured as a prisoner of war. He went back to Dickebusch after he had escaped. His job as a prisoner was unloading grains from the barges. During his time in the prison Pearson had written a story called ‘Prison Guard’s Helmet’.

Prison Guard’s Helmet

(Private 29070 Fred Pearson)

In 1917 Fred Pearson of 35 Cromwell Street, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire was a private in the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was involved in the Battle of Passchendaele Ridge and taken prisoner by the advancing Germans. 

The advance was however short-lived and as the German Army retreated they took their prisoners with them to keep in loading stores and pushing handcarts of supplies.

One day whilst the prisoners were unloading a barge, Fred and his friend Harold Hayes tried to escape, but were caught and brought back. A Prussian Guard’s Officer, (nicknamed ‘Iron Cross’ because of the medal he wore on his uniform) beat Fred on the ribs with his cane, whilst forcing him to keep his hands raised. This angered Fred, and sometime later, as the troops and prisoners were entering a village where they were to camp for the night, Fred was able to exact his revenge. 

The villagers, knowing that the Germans were facing defeat became more confident in expressing their sympathy for the British prisoners, and they brought new dustbins full of soup to give to them. However, the German soldiers tipped the contents down the drains and a great uproar ensued. The prisoners were told to stay put whilst the villagers were driven off. ‘Iron Cross’ removed the helmet and placed it on a handcart whilst he went to help to sort out the trouble.

Prussian guards were very proud of their distinctive helmets, particularly those which, like this one, were made of leather. Later issues were made of composite material. Fred, aware of the importance attached to the item by its owner quickly removed it from the hand cart and hid it beneath his greatcoat.

Later Fred and Harold, in fear of their lives, managed to make their escape over the wall of the churchyard where they had been billeted for the night.

Sheltered by a local family until the Germans left, they made their way back towards British lines. At a crossroads they split up. Fred made his way to Brussels, where he was sheltered by a school teacher in the school house, until eventually he got his prize back safely to Blighty.

This is the story as related by Fred Pearson – Bernard’s only son.

After the war, Fred struggled to find work so he went back into the army as a medical orderly at refugee camps.

Thank you to Bernard Pearson for submitting this wonderful story.

Fred Pearson

Title: Fred Pearson
Description: Fred in Mesopotamia by-nc

Fred Pearson's Helmet

Title: Fred Pearson's Helmet
Description: Submitted by Bernard Pearson by-nc

Peter Joseph McLean’s WW1 Objects

Peter Joseph McLean was enlisted into regular army on 8th of January 1913. He spent twelve years of engagement made up of six years full time (colour) service and six years on reserve. He then joined the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) where he was sent to RFA no. 2 Depot at Preston (however all other evidence shows that he went to no. 5 Depot at Athlone). McLean then posted to join the 112 Battery RFA on March 1913 which was based at Athlone and was under command of 24 Brigade RFA. When was was declared this unit became under command of 6th Division.

In 1914 he landed with his battery in France on the 10th of September. He was appointed as Acting Bombardier in 1916 and went on home leave in June 1917 before coming back to take the place of a man named Pearce who had gone to hospital. At some point McLean was appointed as a Lance Bombardier and eventually he was promoted to Bombardier on 3rd January 1918. In March 1918 he sustained a a wound to the back. He returned to England on the ship ‘Scotia’ on 27th of March 1918.

Two months later, in May 1918, he reported to the Royal Artillery Command Depot at Ripon in Yorkshire which was a military convalescent camp. He was posted back to France although it is unclear when. His units were both parts of the 16th (Irish) Division: ‘X’ Medium Trench Mortar Battery and 16 Divisional Ammunition Column. In December 1918 McLean was put on a charge of neglect where he was reprimanded.
He was then ordered in January 1919 to the Dispersal Unit in Shropshire to go to England via Boulogne. He was transferred to Section B Army Reserve on February 1919 and he returned to civilian life.

In August 1920 McLean married Frances Nagle. His reserve commitment terminated on expiry of original engagement on 7th January 1925. He was entitled to the 1914 Star (with clasp), British War and Victory Medals.

Peter Joseph McLean's Compass

Title: Peter Joseph McLean's Compass
Description: by-nc

Peter Joseph McLean's Medals

Title: Peter Joseph McLean's Medals
Description: by-nc

Submitted by William Coughlan

John Thomas Bowles

John Thomas Bowles was born in Doncaster in July 1886. At the age of 14, still living in Doncaster,he was working as a Watch Maker’s Apprentice whilst his father, Thomas Bowles, was a Railway Engine Driver and his brother was an Engine Fitter’s Apprentice.

John Bowles was a member of the 202nd Battalion. When he emigrated to Canada, Bowles met his wife, Irene Boores Bowles who was a butcher. He enlisted at Edmonton in May 1916. 

John Ernest Bowling

John Ernest Bowling, born March 1881 in Doncaster, grew up in Hull, East Yorkshire. He was the eldest of four children and by the age of 20 he was living in Canada working as a painter. In 1911, age 30, still living in Ontario, Bowling was working as a labourer. He met his wife in Canada, Florence Mary Brown who was a painter.  They had seven children.

In 1916 John Bowling signed the attestation papers and took an oath in Stratford Canada. According to the 1921 Census, Bowling remained in Canada with his family working as a decorator.