John is  remembered on St. Mary Stoke Ipswich Memorial.


Born: 1872, Warley, Essex.

Died: 12th September 1918; Age: 46; Drowned at sea – S.S. “Galway Castle.”


Rank: Sergeant: Service Number: X/502.

Regiment: South African Native Labour Corps.


Memorial Reference:

Panel 48.

Hollybrook Memorial,




Relatives Notified & Address: Husband of Mrs. M.E.R. Nicholls, of Johannesburg, South Africa.





1881   40, Cemetery Road, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.


John was 9 years old and living with his parents & siblings.

Samuel Nicholls, 39, a Colour Sergeant – Militia, born Ipswich.

Sarah Nicholls (nee Long), 27, born Bramford, Suffolk.

Horace Albert Nicholls, 6, born Greenlaw, Midlothian, Scotland.

Beatrice Caroline Nicholls, 4, born Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland.

Samuel James Nicholls, 2, born, Glencoe, Lothian, Scotland.

Sarah Elizabeth Nicholls, 6 months, born Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

3 boarders.


John’s father, Samuel Nicholls died June 1881, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.


Soldiers’ Effects to The High Commissioners for the Union of South Africa.

S.S. “Galway Castle.”

when two days out from Plymouth, she was torpedoed by U-82 and broke her back. At the time she was carrying 400 South African walking wounded, 346 passengers and 204 crew members. So severe was the damage that it was thought that she would sink immediately and it was apparent that U-82 was lining up for another attack. In the rush to abandon ship several lifeboats were swamped by the heavy seas and many finished up in the sea.

However, the U-boat did not mount a further attack and the Galway Castle continued to wallow for three days. Destroyers were summoned by radio to rescue survivors who were taken back to Plymouth where it was ascertained that 143 persons had perished. HMS Spitfire remained in attendance and took off the skeleton crew before she finally sank.

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