CAPTAIN WILLIAM HAROLD NICHOLLS
15TH BTTN. AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY
26TH JANUARY 1917 AGE 29
BURIED: GUARDS' CEMETERY LESBOEUFS, FRANCE
Captain Nicolls' inscription was chosen by his wife. It comes from Ecclesiasticus in the Book of the Apocrypha.
Have regard to thy name; for that shall continue with thee above a thousand great treasures of gold.
A good life hath but a few days: but a good name endureth for ever.
'Name' was a great preoccupation after the first world war. The names of the dead were recorded on memorials all over the Empire, great effort being exerted to ensure that no name was excluded. The statement "Their name liveth for evermore", the words from Ecclesiasticus 44:14, were carved onto Lutyen's Stone of Remembrance in all but the smallest war cemeteries, and was often the dedication on memorials in churches, villages, schools etc, all over the world. A similar sentiment was expressed on the the next-of-kin memorial scroll, "let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten", although here the responsibility for the names living for evermore lies with the generations who come afterwards. Name, or as in the case of this inscription, a good name, also has to do with renown, something that is above 'great treasures of gold' and which will endure for ever.
Billie Nicholls had emigrated to Australia and was working in the crockery department of Messrs Cribb and Foote, Ipswich, Queensland, when war broke out. He enlisted in the Australian Infantry and served throughout the Gallipoli campaign, earning a commission. The newspaper report of his death tells that he was so popular with his fellow soldiers that they all clubbed together to buy him a complete officer's kit.
Nicholls was born in Wales and his parents still lived there. In September 1916 he married Lily May Fuell in Holy Trinity, Llandbradach, South Wales. Returning to the front after a short holiday, he was killed on 26 January 1917. A shell dropped on the dugout where he had just gone for a rest and he was killed by concussion. This was the general conclusion of an Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau search, most of the witnesses assuring his wife that his body appeared untouched.