No.7094, Lance Corporal, Walter NICHOLAS
Aged 35

12th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
formerly 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday, 25th March 1918

An Old Contemptible

Walter NICHOLLS was born on 21st April 1883 in Eriswell (Mildenhall Q2-1883 4A:661), baptised in Mildenhall on 24th June 1883), son of James and Elizabeth (Betsy) NICHOLAS (née HOOD). Subtle name changes made this difficult. The surname varies from NICHOLS, to NICHOLLS and to NICHOLAS.

1891 census..Aged [7] Walter Nichols was at 7 Little London, Eriswell with his father James NICHOLS [39] farm bailiff born Mildenhall; his mother Elizabeth [39] born Mildenhall; sisters Kate [14] born Mildenhall, Sarah Ann [11] born Eriswell; brothers James [5] and Robert [2] both born Eriswell.

1901 census...Aged 17, Walter NICHOLLS, farm labourer born Eriswell was at Workhouse Lane, Barton Mills with his father James NICHOLLS [[50] farm foreman born West Row; mother Betsey NICHOLLS [50] born West Row; brothers James [1 57] farm labourer born Eriswell and Robert [12] born Eriswell. Lewis NICHOLLS [2] born Barton Mills is recorded as grandson of Betsey but his parentage is not currently known.

1911 census...Aged 25 he was in the Suffolk Regiment, in Egypt. In Barton Mills were his widowed mother Elizabeth NICHOLAS [59] born West Row; his sister Kate [34] born West Row, brothers James and Robert (farm labourers, born Eriswell). Lewis [12] born Barton Mills and Mary Irene [6] born Barton Mills were both recorded as Elizabeth's grandchildren

His younger brother James was killed in the same action, presumed killed on 22nd March 1918. see here

He enlisted in Mildenhall. "Soldiers Died" has him born in Elmswell, not Eriswell.
CWGC and "Soldiers Died" record him as in the 12th Battalion, which by the 25th March 1918 was withdrawing in the face of the German Spring Offensive. After three years of barely moving 1,000 yards, they were now covering miles per day as the enemy used storm troops to advance rapidly, ignoring strong points, leaving them to be mopped up by other troops.
On the night of 24th/25th they organised a line in front of the Ervillers-Behagnies road which held up the German advance for about 12 hours, before being withdrawn on the 26 and sent to Neuf Berquin.
The war dairy is quite brief:-
13-21st Blairville, in Camp training.
21-22 In action Corps and Army lines
23-24 In action continuously
25 In action continuously
26 Bienvillers Battn withdrawn from action

CWGC records add to the picture by detailing 6 killed on 21st - 8 on 22nd - 0 on 23rd - 10 on 24th - 19 on 25th

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Walter Nicholas is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, bay 4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details