One Riverina man is determined to keep his family’s legacy and the legacy of World War I alive.
Chris Nicholes shared his grandfather’s story of sacrifice, almost 100 years after the notorious 1917 Battle of Passchendaele.
Lieutenant William Pears Nicholes of the 14th Light Horse Regiment was killed during the Third Battle of Ypres – one of Australia’s most costly battles across The Great War.
“People need to know what went on,” Mr Nicholes said. “Most people wouldn’t know anything about the names on Menin Gate.”
Lt Nicholes’s name is listed among the soldiers who fought and died on the Western Front, but were never found.
The 37-year-old was one of 12,000 Aussie troops who perished amid a hellish landscape of shattered trees, mud, explosions and machine-gun fire.
Like thousands of allied soldiers – who were blown up, shot, drowned in pools of mud or suffocated on gas – the fate of Lt Nicholes remains a mystery.
The Tongala farmer had been a war correspondent for The London Illustrator during the Boer War, using his hand to draw images of the conflict.
When tension in Europe escalated and war was declared, he exchanged his pen for a rifle.
Lt Nicholes was one of the first 75 Australians to sign up for “the war to end all wars”. After being injured on the first day at Gallipoli, he was moved across countries and borders to fight at various fronts.
It was supposed to be an adventure, lasting only a few months. Instead, it lasted years and cost the country an average of 38 defence personnel per day, across 1560 days.
Lt Nichols left behind his wife and five children, who were forced to move when drought struck in 1914.
His son, John, who settled in the Riverina, went on to write a series of short stories. One of these, revealed the account of an eight-year-old boy, who had waited for a father who would never come home.
Lt Nicholes’s grandson Chris, later had these stories published in a book, titled: Sailor on the Track.