The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

3203064 Pte Wilfred Seaforth Nicholas

1st Depot Battalion, Nova Scotia Regiment
The Royal Canadian Regiment

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

Wilfred Seaforth Nicholas was born at Black Rocks, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 18 May 1899. Nicholas's family can be found in the 1901 and 1911 Canadian Censuses. In the 1901 Census, parents John (28) and Hattie (nee Whynacht (Whynot), 21) have two children, Wilfred (2), and Alvadras (4 mos.). A third child, Fenwick, is noted as born in 1905 (and lived until 1979) but does not appear in the census records. Wilfred's mother Hattie died in 1908 and the following year his father remarried, taking 17-year-old Phoebe Selig as his second wife. The 1911 Canadian Census shows the family in Black Rocks, John (40) and Phoebe (19) are shown with Wilfred (13), and Alvadras (10) while Fenwick is missing from the census record.

Nicholas attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with the 1st Depot Battalion, Nova Scotia Regiment at McNab's Island, N.S., on 11 Apr 1918. A labourer, aged 18 years, 11 months, though he declared himself a year older, Nicholas was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds, with a 34-inch chest, a fair complexion, blue eyes, and light hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. Nicholas identified his father, Mr. John Nicholas, 164 Argyle St., Halifax, N.S., as his next of kin. Claiming prior service with the 63rd Regiment, Halifax Rifles, Nicholas was placed in a Special Draft of 63rd Regiment soldiers to go overseas from the Depot Battalion. On attesting with the 1st Depot Bn., N.S. Regt., Nicholas was given the C.E.F. service number 3203064.

Commencing June, 1918, Nicholas established a monthly Pay Assignment of $10 to be sent to his father. As a Private in the C.E.F., Nicholas was paid $1.00 per day plus an additional ten cents daily field allowance. His pay assignment represented about one-thirds of his monthly pay.

On 25 Jun 1918, Nicholas embarked for overseas at Halifax, N.S., aboard the Hired Military Transport (H.M.T.) S.S. Waimana. The Waimana was a small, single stack, liner (8129 tonnes) completed in 1911 for the Shaw, Savill & Albion Co. Ltd. of Southampton. She served as a troopship in both the First and Second World Wars. Nicholas disembarked in England on 7 Jul 1918 and was taken on the strength of the 17th Reserve Battalion, shown "On Command," i.e., a temporary duty assignment without changing parent units, to the Segregation Camp at Frensham Ponds, Bramshott.

The Segregation Camp was a measure to control the potential risks of spreading infectious diseases, in particular Influenza, between the camps in England, or with those in France. It was also used as a receiving camp for fresh troops coming from Canada before they were introduced into the main populations of soldiers in the training camps. Normally, troops in transit spent four weeks in the Segregation Camp, Witherow would still be there in November 1918.

Nicholas reported Off Command to the 17th Res. Bn. on 4 Aug 1918. Three months later, on 30 Oct 1918, he proceeded overseas for service with The RCR.

Arriving in France at the Canadian Infantry Base Depot (C.I.B.D.). on 31 Oct 1918, Nicholas was taken on the strength of The RCR. On 3 Nov 1918 he moved to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Centre (C.C.R.C.) and five days later, on 8 Nov 1918, left to join The RCR in the field.

It was five days later that Nicholas arrived at the Regiment on 13 Nov 1918. Two days after the Armistice. The RCR War Diary for 13 Nov 1918 notes the arrival of this latest draft of soldiers in a stereo-typically dry fashion:

13-11-1918. – MONS

Training carried out during the morning. Battalion engaged in cleaning up, reorganizing, and re-fitting equipment.

Lieut. D.A. PORTER rtd. from leave. 24 O.Rs. from C.C.R.C.

Although he had arrived two days late for the War, Nicholas was in the theatre of operations and on the strength of a unit for three days before the shooting stopped on 11 November. That ensured he would receive both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service.

Nicholas would serve with The RCR for three months before proceeding to England on 6 Feb 1919. Spending the rest of the month in England, on 1 Mar 1919 Nicholas was struck off the strength of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (O.M.F.C.) on proceeding to Canada from Liverpool.

Arrived in Halifax, N.S., on 9 Mar 1919, Nicholas was taken on the strength of No. 6 District Depot, Halifax, N.S., and posted to Disposal Station "B". less than a week later, on 15 Mar 1919, he was discharged on demobilization. Nicholas received a Class "A" War Service Badge, numbered 233500. On discharge, Nicholas was eligible to receive a War Service Gratuity of $350. Cheques were issued to him in five installments between March and July, 1919.

In the 1921 Canadian Census, Nicholas is shown back in the family home in Halifax. The household includes John (49) and Phoebe (29) with Wilfred (22), Alvadras (20), and step-siblings Fred (7) and Amy (3). In 1921, Wilfred's trade is recorded as carpenter.

For his service in the C.E.F., Nicholas was entitled to receive the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These were despatched to him at 97 Agricola St., Halifax, N.S., on 11 Nov 1921.

On 9 Oct 1929, Nicholas married 25-year-old Lillian May Jollimore. The couple would have eight children, two of which would die in infancy.

Wilfred Nicholas died on 19 Jul 1961 at Halifax, N.S. At the age of 62, the cause of his death was recorded as myocardial infarction. His death registration gave his age as 63, using his earlier 1898 birthdate.

Pro Patria

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