John David Nicholas

Personnel header
Lance Corporal John "Jack" David Nicholas
Life dates
09 Jul 1915 - 07 Mar 1972
Profile Picture
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Caption & credit
Jack Nicholas in Military Police Uniform prior to joining Auxiliary Units (Michael Condon OBE)

Jack Nicholas was a police constable with Birmingham City Police, at Steelhouse Lane Police Station. He had been born in Wales. His Police Record shows that he was 5 foot 9 inches, with greenish eyes and dark brown hair. He joined on 2 May 1935. His record was exemplary, with first grade results in his final Police exam and was twice complimented for arrests he made. He registered under the National Service Act on 3 Mar 1940 and left 9 Jun 1940 at his own request to join up, having attested 2 days earlier.

Surprisingly for a Police Constable joining the Military Police, it appears he lied on sign up papers. His Date of Birth is given as 6 Jun 1915 and remains like this throughout his service. He also said that he was an insurance clerk. He had worked for Pearl Insurance as a clerk in their London office while trying to join the Police. He had been rejected by the Metropolitan Police but was able to join the Birmingham City Force subsequently and had been with them some years when he completed the form. It seems likely that he was trying get around restrictions on Policemen joining up and for some reason it was important that he was 25 years old, as he changed his date of birth to be exactly this age.

After the war, he joined the Emergency training scheme, a programme for training ex-servicemen that opened in June 1945 to those with service of at least a year and became a teacher after a year of study and then worked a two year probationary period. He died at his school, Cilgerran Primary School, Pembrokeshire,  in 1972, just a few miles from his birthplace, while repairing his car during his lunch break.

His brother George Richard Nicholas, was killed while serving on HM Trawler Stella Capella as a Coder on 15 Mar 1942

Unit or location Role Posted from until
North Somerset Scout Section Scout Section Corporal 15 Apr 1941 20 Apr 1942
National ID
QAII 182/9
The Welch Regiment
Military number
Commissioned or Enlisted
7 Jun 1940

Police Constable


As a pre-war policeman he joined the Royal Military Police on joining up.

13 Jul 1940 Appointed Lance Corporal (unpaid).

6 Apr 1941 Transferred to Welch Regiment Infantry Training Centre at Brecon.

15 Apr 1941 Posted to HQ Auxiliary Units. Almost certainly joined as a member of North Somerset Scout Section which was formed from the Welch Regiment. Recruitment was normally from men at the Depot as was the case here.

20 Apr 1942 Posted to No.3 Commando. 

19 Aug 1942 He took part in Operation Jubilee, the Dieppe Raid. The assault of No. 3 Commando on the Goebbels Battery to the east of the main landings was disrupted at the last minute by a German patrol boat and many of the men never landed as the commanders cancelled the landings. Most of those who did land, unaware of the change in orders, were killed or captured.

For many years there were rumours that members of Auxiliary Units had taken part in the Dieppe Raid, but to date, Jack is the only one for whom we have any documentary proof. He is thought to appear in a photo of 3 Commando men taken on their return to Newhaven after the raid. He kept a copy of a newspaper cutting featuring this image and the figure bears close resemblance to other photos of him from the period. Other men among the immediate group in a short series of images taken at this time are known to have been among the very few who landed in France and returned safely, so possibly Jack did so as well.

27 Jan 1943 Posted to 5 Infantry Division.

11 Feb 1943 Posted to 18th Battalion.

11 Apr 1943 Posted to Draft (This would be while travelling overseas as a reinforcement).

2 May 1943 Posted to 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.

He joined for the final days of the Tunisian Campaign, including the entry into Tunis, resulting in the award of the Africa Star with First Army clasp.

6 Oct 1943 Wounded in action in Termoli, Italy, resulting in his left leg being amputated.

The war diary of 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers suggests most casualties were sustained in the early afternoon as the result of mortar fire as they advanced to take control of positions around Termoli to enable the defence of the town. The men had only landed late the day before.

5 Jan 1944 Disembarked UK.

24 Aug 1944 Discharged as "unfit for any form of military service".

Other pictures
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Caption & credit
Men of 3 Commando at Newhaven after returning form the Dieppe Raid. It is believed that Jack Nicholas is the bare headed man on the left, as he retained a newspaper cutting featuring this image (National Archives of Canada PA-183775)