An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten

James Alfred NICHOLS

No. 985867 Sergeant, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve;
No. 101 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Died 19 August 1941, aged 25 years.

Commemorated on the Air Forces Runnymede Memorial,
Surrey, Panel 49.

No. 101 Squadron was part of RAF Bomber Command, and was flying Vickers Wellington aircraft. On the evening of 19 August 1941, Sergeant Nichols was one of the six-man, all-sergeant crew of Wellington code sign SR-N which took off from RAF Oakington in Cambridgeshire on a bombing mission to Kiel in northern Germany. The aircraft did not return and was lost without trace.

The Runnymede Memorial records the names of more than 20,000 British and Commonwealth airmen who died in the Second World War and who have no known grave.

James Alfred Nichols was the son of Edgar Robert Nichols and Martha Nichols of Middlesbrough. His father was a pharmacist and James had at least one sibling, an older sister, Barbara. Born in 1916, James entered Coatham School as a boarder in September 1928, joining School House. He took part in numerous school activities, as well as being a successful scholar. In December 1929 two of his poems appeared in the school magazine; in July 1929, in Form IVB, he won the form prize; in his final two years, 1932-1934 he took part in school debates and in the school plays of 1933 and 1934, “showing a great deal of artistic talent”. He played 1st XV rugby for his house and the school, playing in the same team as Coupe and Clapham (q.v.). The distinctions he achieved in Higher School Certificate examinations enabled him to take a place at The Queen’s College, Oxford, in 1934, where he played for his college at both rugby and hockey. His occupation on graduating B.A. Honours is not known, although he perhaps returned to the family home in Sycamore Road, Middlesbrough, where his parents were still living at the time of his death. James married Brenda M. Harris in Middlesbrough in September 1939. He was first listed on the School’s Roll of Honour in July 1942.