Duncan Nicholl - Berkswell
Rank: Company Quartermaster Serjeant
Service No :2851
Date of Death:16/12/1916
Regiment/Service: Royal Warwickshire Regiment 2nd/7th
Grave Reference: VIII. D. 26.
Cemetery:WARLOY-BAILLON COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION
Son of John William and Eleanor Nicholl, of Berkswell.
Berkswell Remembers WW1 ringer
Monday, 4th August 2014 marked the centenary of the start of the First World War when Great Britain declared war on Germany in response to them invading Belgium. Amongst the many that lost their lives was a Berkswell Bellringer by the name of Duncan Nicholl.
Born in 1881, Duncan was the son of John William and Eleanor Nicholl and lived at The School House in Berkswell. His father was Head Teacher at the school. After attending Berkswell School, Duncan moved to King Henry VIII School in Coventry before joining the London and Midland Bank. In 1912 he became engaged to local girl, Harrietta Louise Downes, who despite having very poor eyesight, went on to graduate with a BA and to set up a private school on the Berkswell Estate. The school closed following her retirement at the age of 78!! She died in 1962. After her death, Duncan Nicholl’s photograph was found in a locket she always wore.
The 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion. Duncan Nicholl joined this battalion and landed in France on 21st May 1916. He was engaged on the northern front of the Somme and died of his injuries at a base hospital on 16th December 1916. Company Quartermaster Sergeant Duncan Nicholl is buried at the Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension with 1,000 others. See photograph.
Little is known of Duncan’s bellringing achievements at Berkswell, but In memory of his life and the many that lost their lives, the Berkswell Bellringers wished to mark the centenary of the start of WW1 by ringing the bells on Monday 4th August. All the ringers who could attend gathered and rang the bells before 6 of the band attempted a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles. After 960 changes on a very warm evening, a lapse in concentration from the heat brought the attempt to an end.
Tower Captain, Stephen Patrick remarked afterwards, “I think the band did extraordinarily well considering this is the first time they have rung together for this length of time and without any outside help. Since we started our ringers on the ITTS training scheme in 2012, it has been a goal to achieve a quarter peal rung only by our Sunday Service band. We may not be there yet, but we are very close to achieving this. There will be another attempt before long. I am quite sure Duncan would have appreciated our efforts this evening”.
The Berkswell Ringers: Left to Right: Julia; Cathy; Angela; Sue; Gordon (holding a tribute to CQS Duncan Nicholl by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission); Steve T; Matthew; & Brenda. Also present: Stephen Patrick; & Peter Bennion.
Acknowledgements: Jill Bailey, Philip Hope, Shelagh Hubbard and Brenda Murray for their contributions to the background of Company Quartermaster Sergeant Duncan Nicholl and his fiancé; and to Alan Regin from the Central Council of Church Bellringers for use of his photograph of CQS Duncan Nicholl’s grave..
Steven Tibbetts, Berkswell Training Co-ordinator
Coventry Diocesan Guild
Berkswell, West Midlands St John the Baptist
Saturday, 26 November 2016 in 3h03 (16)
5040 Surprise Minor (7m)
One extent each: London, Durham, Bourne, Westminster, Surfleet, Norwich, Cambridge.
1 Michael Chester
2 Nicola J Turner
3 Colin M Turner
4 Andrew F Alldrick
5 Adam R Crocker
6 Robert J Crocker (C)
Rung in memory of Company Quartermaster Sergeant Duncan Nicholl, Berkswell, Warwickshire.
Died 16/12/1916 age 35. Royal Warwickshire Regiment 2nd/7th Service No.2851.
Commemorated at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, France.