George Martin NICHOLSON


NICHOLSON, George Martin

Service Number: 1631
Enlisted: 18 July 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Perth, Scotland, 22 July 1893
Home Town: Bunbury, Bunbury, Western Australia
Schooling: Perth Academy, Perthshire, Scotland
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in action, Belgium, 12 October 1917, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial
XL. B. 2.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Perth (Scotland) Academy Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

18 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
18 Nov 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1631, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
18 Nov 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1631, 32nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide

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Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

George Martin Nicholson was born on 22nd July 1893 in Perth, and was educated at Perth Academy. He enlisted at the Blackboy Hill camp at the foot of the Darling Ranges, on 18th July 1915, aged 22. Two companies of the 32nd Battalion were formed in Western Australia and two companies in South Australia.
The 32nd Battalion, which was part of the 8th Brigade, was based at Mitcham, on the outskirts of Adelaide. The Mitcham AIF camp, in the present day suburb of Colonel Light Gardens, was the main training camp for South Australia (and some Western Australian) enlistees, from 1st April 1915.

The 32nd Battalion relocated to Cheltenham Camp, also in Adelaide, on 16th September, possibly because of a meningitis outbreak at Mitcham Camp (although this was hushed up by the authorities). The two Western Australian companies were also at Cheltenham, and remained there until embarkation on 18th November.
The battalion sailed on the “Geelong” from Adelaide to the Suez Canal on 18th November 1915.
They arrived amidst the aftermath of the failed Gallipoli campaign, which saw a reorganisation and expansion of the AIF in preparation for its dispatch to France and Belgium.

As part of the 8th Brigade, attached to the 5th Division, in June 1916 the battalion was shipped to France. The following month the battalion was committed to the front for the first time on the 16th July 1916. They took part in the fighting around Fromelles during which they suffered 718 casualties - a third of the battalion’s total casualties for the entire war - which equalled roughly 90% of its effective strength. As a result, the 32nd Battal-ion took no further part in any of the other offensives that took place in 1916.
During early 1917 the battalion took part in the operations in pursuit of the German forces as they retreated towards the Hindenburg Line, but found itself in the flank protection role during the Second Battle of Bullecourt in May.

On the 26th September 1917, however, the battalion was heavily committed to the fighting around Polygon Wood near Ypres in Belgium during the Battle of Passchendaele. George Nicholson would have lost his life during this action. He was 24 years old.

George Nicholson is also commemorated on the St. John the Baptist Church War Memorial, Perth.

This biography was written by students of Perth Academy, Perthshire, Scotland, and kindly donated to the Virtual War Memorial Australia.