LIEUTENANT COLONEL EDWARD HILLS NICHOLSON DSO AND BAR
4TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 38
BURIED: UNICORN CEMETERY, VENDHUILE, FRANCE
This inscription comes from the epitaph Tennyson wrote for his friend General Gordon, killed in the Sudan in January 1885:
Warrior of God, man's friend, and tyrant's foe
Now somewhere dead far in the waste Soudan,
Thou livest in all hearts, for all men know
This earth has never born a nobler man.
It is difficult to overestimate Gordon's fame; he was one of the Victorian era's biggest military heroes, his achievements summarised on his memorial in St Paul's Cathedral:
Major General Charles George Gordon, C.B.
Who at all times and everywhere, gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, his heart to God.
Born at Woolwich 28 January 1833
Slain at Khartoum 26 January 1885
He saved an Empire by his warlike genius, he ruled vast provinces with justice, wisdom, and power.
And lastly obedient to his sovereign's command, he died in the heroic attempt to save men, women and children from imminent and deadly peril.
Tennyson's epitaph for his friend does not feature either on his memorial in St Paul's or on his memorial in Westminster Abbey but in the Gordon Boys' National Memorial Home, Woking, one of a series of boys' homes established throughout the country in his memory .
Edward Hills Nicholson was educated at Winchester College, and is remembered on their commemorative website. On leaving school he joined the regular army and fought in South Africa. After a period of service in India, he was posted to the Western Front in June 1915, and then to Salonika that November where he remained until he returned to the Western Front in July 1918. He was killed in the taking of Richmond Copse, a German stronghold, on the morning of 4 October.
Edward Nicholson was one of seven children; his parents had four sons and three daughters. Bruce Nicholson was killed on 3 May 1917 and Victor two months later on 9 August. Biographies of all three brothers appear on page 132 of the fifth volume of the Marquis du Ruvigny's Roll of Honour. The fourth brother, Walter, died suddenly in 1943 whilst serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve.
In April 1912, Nicholson married Ethel Frances in Bombay Cathedral. She chose his inscription.