36121 Trooper Ward Nicol – Wellington Mounted Rifles

Ward Nicol was born on 17th August 1896 in Pauatahanui the eldest of twelve children born to Caroline Emma (Iggulden) and John William Nicol[i]. The Iggulden and Nicol families were early settlers in the Pauatahanui district.

On 5th October 1916 Ward Nicol signed attestation papers; he is listed as a farmer working for Mr W J Huston, Waipuku, Stratford, Taranaki where he is listed as living. Ward’s next of kin was his mother Mrs Emma Nicol, Levin, Horowhenua. Ward indicated his preference was to join the Mounted Rifles.[ii]

36121 Trooper Ward Nicol entered military camp on 5th October 1916 with the 25th Reinforcements, Mounted Rifles during training and prior to embarking for overseas service Trooper Nicol attended a ‘social’ at Pauatahanui on
3rd April 1917[iii]

                  A very enjoyable social was held at Pahautanui Assembly Rooms, the occasion being
                 a farewell to Troopers Harris[iv] and Nicol. A large number of friends all around the
                 district were present. Mr Barclay (in the absence of Mr Galloway, president of the
                 Patriotic Association) presented the troopers with a wristlet watch each. Troopers Nicol
                 and Harris suitably responded. The music was supplied by Mesers. Gilchrist (Violinist)
                 and E. J. King (pianist), assisted by Messers. Alf. Bradey (double bass) and
                 Fred Bradey (cornet). Miss Robinson recited “Anzac” in good style.

Trooper Ward Nicol  with three of his younger
brothers left to right
Alfred Alexander,
Ernest (George) George
Victor (Vic) John Nicol 
Trooper Nicol sailed on 31st May 1917 with 262
men who made up the 25th and 26th
Reinforcements for the Mounted Rifles.  The
Reinforcements were disembarked at Sydney
and re-embarked with Australian reinforcements
on the Port of Melbourne so they did not arrive in
Egypt until 19th October 1917. In Egypt
Trooper Nicol went into the training battalion as
an allocation to the Wellington Mounted Rifles
(WMR). Trooper Nicol joined the WMR in the field
on the 4th December 1917 where the NZ Mounted
Rifles, of which the WMR was a element, relieves the Imperial Camel Corps in muddy trenches at Sakia 7 km south-east of Jaffa’ [v] Palestine.

Trooper Nicol was wounded while in these muddy trenches suffering a gunshot wound to the shoulder[vi]  Trooper Nicol was evacuated by Mounted Field Ambulance to the 24th Stationary Hospital at Kantara, Egypt for assessment and then
on 13th December 1917 to the 27th General Hospital for ongoing treatment. Trooper Nicol was discharged to the
NZ Aotea Convalescent Hospital on 28th December 1917 by the 23rd January 1918 he was considered fit enough to be discharged for active service. Trooper Nicol spent a month with the Training Battalion before rejoining the WMR ‘In the Field’ on 28th February 1918.

In August 1918 the WMR was in action near Beersheba, Palestine and is possible that Trooper Nicol was wounded during these skirmishes or during a bombing / strafing by enemy aircraft as he was admitted to hospital on 6th September 1918, with a minor gunshot wound (GSW) to his face and lower jaw. Trooper Nicol was evacuated again to Egypt, where the wound was tended but the effects of campaigning in Palestine had a greater impact and he was listed in October 1918
as suffering from diarrhoea and dysentery. The later medical condition was serious enough for Trooper Nicol to go before
a medical board on 3rd December 1918 where it was decided he should be returned to New Zealand. On 26th December 1918 Trooper Nicol embarked on the Wiltshire for New Zealand. Trooper Nicol arrived in New Zealand on
2nd February 1919 and was given a month’s leave before being discharged on 1st March 1919 as
“no longer physically fit for active service (chronic diarrhoea and debility)

Ward amd another returning serviceman were welcomed home on 5th April 1919 [vii]

                Two returned soldiers, Trooper Nicol and Private Harris[viii], were guests of the Pahautanui Patriotic
                Committee at a social gathering of residents. Mr Frank Taylor, acting-chairman, presented the guests
                with tokens of esteem, all present signified their pleasure at the soldiers’ return home by heartily singing
                “For They Are Jolly Good Fellows.” Supper was provided, and during the evening pleasant music was
                rendered by Messers. Tanner (violin) and E.J. King (piano) Mr Tui Carter contributed a song. The M. C.’s
                were Messers Taylor and Harris. It was announced that a canvass of the district would be made to give
                other boys coming home a similar function.

Ward returned to his parents in Levin[ix] on his return but by 1920 he had moved to farm in Whangamonona, Taranaki. Ward married Jane Reid in 1920 and the couple had two children while they were living in Whangamonona and the other children we born when the family were farming closer to Stratford at Tuna, Midhurst, Taranaki.

Ward Nicol died on 18th September 1974 and is buried with his wife Jane in the Kopuatoma Cemetery, Midhurst[x].

Ward Nicol is commemorated on the Pauatahanui Roll of Honour held in the St Alban’s Church, Pauatahanui.[xi]

Paperspast Online
Pauatahanui – a local history
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
NZ at War, Mounted Rifle Units, Wellington Mounted Rifles: NZ History online.

Nicol brothers: Ancestry.com
Wellington Mounted Rifles in Jaffa : National Library 

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 36121 Trooper Ward Nicol
[iii] Personal Matters, 6th March 1917, Evening Post
[iv] It is probable this is 41542 Private Walter Harris, 20th Reinforcements, Infantry who left New Zealand on 3rd April  1917
[v] Wellington Mounted Rifles timeline: NZ History online
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 36121 Trooper Ward Nicol
[vii] Patauhanui Social, 6th April 1919, Evening Post
[viii] It is probably 30582 Private Eric Cecil William Harris, Wellington Infantry Regiment
[ix] 1919 Electoral Rolls
[x] Ansetry.com: Family tree
[xi] Pauatahanui – a local history
Wellington Mounted Rifles in Jaffa 1917