111392 Sgt. Norman Henry Nicholas, DCM was born on 4th July 1892. He was brought up in the small village of Trevelmond, near Liskeard, Cornwall, England, where his father, George, was a farmer. Norman was one of four children, having two older sisters and one younger.

It is not known what year, or indeed why, Norman left Cornwall for Canada in his late teens, but he subsequently gained employment as a lumber worker. He always, however, spoke of his time in Canada with great affection.

At Amhurst, Nova Scotia, in June 1915, Norman joined up to serve in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force and was originally assigned to the 6th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which was absorbed by the 4th CMR in the divisional reshuffle of January 1916. After training in Ontario and then the South Downs of England, he arrived in France in October 1915 and for the next three years he saw active service with the 4th CMR in France and Belgium.

Like so many others who fought in the Great War, Norman spoke very little of his experiences. We know that he rose to the rank of Sergeant and though injured in the 'Battle for Mount Sorrel' on June 2nd, 1916, he, unlike most of his comrades, survived the regiment's darkest day. He also fought in the Second Battle of Passchendaele, and through his actions in that battle on 26th October 1917, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for gallant and distinguished service in the field.

His citation reads as follows:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. When his company became disorganised through loss of Officers, he collected a party and led them in an attack on a "pill-box," from which a machine gun was firing on the company. Almost all the party were put out of action, and he personally accounted for five of the enemy. His example so encouraged the remaining men that the position was successfully captured. He set a magnificent example of courage and initiative."

(London Gazette 30601, 28th March 1918)

2nd from left in this second picture (click on the image to see a larger version), Norman was discharged in April 1919 and returned to the family farm in Cornwall, England. In 1927 he married Mary Michell. They moved to Essex where Norman managed a large dairy and arable farm and raised two daughters: Mary and Anne. In 1933, they moved to Doynton, a small village in Gloucestershire, where Norman became tenant of his own farm.

During the Second World War he became Chief Air Raid Warden for the area and the farmhouse became the Wardens' post. Often a scene of much hilarity I am told!

In 1944, Norman and Mary had another daughter, Sue (my mum), who wishes that she knew more of her father's experiences, as it is only with the passing of time that we realise the horrors and traumas that these brave men faced. Sue always remembers watching the Armistice Day services on television with him and seeing the tears roll down his cheeks. What a mixture of memories those images must have provoked.

Norman retired from farming in 1963 and died peacefully in March 1969, aged 76. He was laid to rest in Doynton Churchyard.

Biography and photograph credits: Simon Merrall

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