Heritage

PhotographSgt Henry James Nicholas V.C. M.M.

Henry Nicholas was the first soldier from the Canterbury Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Early life

Nicholas was born in Lincoln on 11 June 1891 to Richard and Hannah Nicholas. He attended Christchurch Normal School (in Cranmer Square) and Christchurch East School. He was then apprenticed to a builder, and his occupation on enlistment was given as carpenter. He had a reputation as a good sportsman, and was well known in New Zealand as an amateur boxer. He was unmarried.

Awarded the Victoria Cross

Nicholas was awarded the Victoria Cross following his bravery in action at Polderhoek (Belgium) on 3 December 1917. He was officially invested with the VC at Buckingham Palace by H. M. King George V in July 1918.

Posthumous honours

Nicholas died in action on 23rd October 1918 aged 26. He was awarded the Military Medal posthumously for his bravery during the fight for the bridgeheads at the River Ecaillon near the village of Beaudignies on 23 October 1918, twelve days before the New Zealanders’ capture of the town of Le Quesnoy.

He was buried with full military honours, on the 29th of October in the Vertigneul Churchyard, Romeries. Both of his medals are held by Canterbury Museum.

A memorial to Henry Nicholas was unveiled on Wednesday 7 March 2007 at the Park of Remembrance – northwest of the Bridge of Remembrance on Cambridge Terrace.

Sources

New Zealand and Le Quesnoy
Brief information from New Zealand History online.
David Ferguson, The History of the Canterbury Regiment, NZEF, 1914-19, 1921.
Search our catalogue for this title.
Sergeant Henry James Nicholas V.C. memorial unveiled
CCC Media Release, 28 February 2007.
Sergeant Henry Nicholas

Find out more about Sergeant Nicholas

Sergeant Henry James Nicholas V.C. M.M memorial
View our Flickr set of photos of the memorial overlooking the Bridge of Remembrance.
Casualty details Nicholas Henry James
Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site has details of war graves.
Quid non pro patria : the short, distinguished military life of Henry James Nicholas VC MM
by John H. Gray, also author of The New Zealand Division in France and Flanders, May 1916 to November 1918: a contemporary diary of pilgrimages in their footsteps April 2002 and July 2005
New Zealand. Army. Canterbury Regiment
Library holdings about this regiment.

World War I

Internet gateway: World War I
Our links to selected web sites about World War One.
New Zealanders in World War I
Our guide to sources of information about the men and women who served in New Zealand forces during the first World War.
ANZAC Day 25 April
ANZAC Day in New Zealand is held on 25 April each year to commemorate New Zealanders killed in war and to honour returned servicemen and women.
Armistice Day 11 November
The anniversary of the Armistice that ended the World War I (1914-1918) commemorates the sacrifice of those who died serving New Zealand in this and all wars and armed conflicts.

Medals