100 years ago - remembering Sidney Nicholson

Sidney Nicholson died 100 years ago today. May he rest in peace.

This is my Great-Uncle Sidney Nicholson - front right in this family portrait of the Nicholson brothers. He served in the 21st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps and was killed in action on October 7th 1916 aged 26. 
John William Nicholson and Elizabeth Carroll had ten children: seven sons and 3 daughters. In order there was Arthur, Edwin Stansfield, Emily, William James, John Leonard, Elizabeth, Sidney, Frank Cockroft, Laura and Ernest Carroll (my Grand Father). 
Sidney's body was not recovered but he was commemorated on his parents' grave in Barnsley Cemetery. Also remembered there is his sister Elizabeth who died in the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919.
The extremely poignant letter send by my Grand Father to his parents shortly after Sidney was shot has survived.

Friday 12th October 1916

My dear Mother and All

I suppose by now you will have heard from the Sergeant Major & also from the Wesleyan Chaplain that our Sid was shot through the head on Saturday last.  I wasn't there as I was kept back at the transport line with the Reserve men but from what I can get to know from the men of his section he was killed instantaneously.  He was a section commander and was leading his men on when he was killed.  Mummy dear, I hardly know what to write.  It's terribly hard on you and all of us but we must try to think of him as just having gone to join Dad, and that we shall all meet again in the days to come.  Everybody has been most kind and Lieutenant Brooksbank particularly so.  He took me into his tent and was nearly heartbroken.  Poor old Rufus was killed just before Sid, so we are gradually losing all our own men.  I'll know you'll try to be brave won't you mum?  I know it isn't very much satisfaction to any of us to say he died for his country, but there is one thing, he was doing his duty as he saw it and I am sure you wouldn't want any of us to go back on our friends would you? 

I have got a few things of his from his valise which I am trying to send home.  He left his  wallet with to give to Hilda if anything happened to him so I'll send them all together and you can give it her.  I can't write any more and you'll understand why don't you?  I'll write to the others after a few days.  God bless you all and help you to bear this severe blow.  We always pray for you at night and ask God to bless you.

With fondest love to you all

Always your ever loving son


Sidney Nicholson is also remembered on the Thiepval Memorial,the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, that bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.