Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

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Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby wallflower » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:46 pm

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I have a few photos to share but will start with these two.
The first is of my Grandfather, Charles John Nicholls (alias William Owens). He enlisted with the 1st Battalion Border Regiment on 11th February 1906 at the age of 19. After a short period of training he was stationed in Gibralta, India and Burma respectively. He returned to the UK sometime in 1913, received his Bounty of £64.15s which was paid out in gold, and was transferred to the Reserves.
Does anyone have any idea when and where this photo would have been taken? He looks very young and the Brodrick Forage Cap could be a clue. When were this style of cap dispensed with?
According to my Grandfather the second photo is of a Border Regiment team after they had won the Gymkhana Rugby Cup. He was a member of the team and is standing at the end of the back row. I would love to know when and where this Rugby match took place.
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby plbramham » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:09 pm

Re second photo: I am almost 99% certain - Maymyo, Burma
Compared to other photos I have ( and are posted on this forum) - that looks exactly like the exterior of the barracks/ buildings at Maymyo, Burma. I think that places it exactly. I will attach one example below, ( just do a search for others by entering “Maymyo” on the search bar) but this posting is one of several I have made for Maymyo. Just to start you off, click this link, which I guess refers to his time in Burma: viewtopic.php?f=145&t=2340&p=5808&hilit=maymyo#p5808 I realise that probably most buildings were a "standard" pattern, but so many photos were taken at Maymyo I think it s a very good bet.
Incidentally, a 1920s house built in Milnthorpe, Cumbria is named “Maymyo”, I understand by the postmaster who had to deal with the WW1 “death letters” - Obviously not so much for the territorials in India/Burma, but the other Border Regt battalions such as especially the 8th. His son ( of the person who built it) it served there with the 4th Border territorials .
Oh apparently Maymyo means “May’s town” after the Colonel May who established it in Victorian times .
I cannot give any definite info re: first photo. Certainly pre WW1 I would think. I have never seen that sort of cap badge/emblem before. It appears to be a standard badge in the middle with sort of wings/arms on each side?
Cheers Paul
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby plbramham » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:17 pm

Never noticed before, but perhaps just spotted faces of men inside the barrack room windows "sneaking into" the photo!
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby kerchi » Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:53 pm

Re the Brodrick cap and a quick internet search (maybe you have found the same sources) it looks like it's demise came about in 1905 (as stated in Forage Cap page on Wikipedia) and 1906 (as stated on the British Badge Forum). I don't know how correct this date is but you can work on the basis that the photo was taken possibly the same year he enlisted, as you have most like already worked out (as you say he looks young in the photo).
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby wallflower » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:09 am

Re.the Gymkhana Cup: In his "memoirs" my Grandfather states " ........we were on the move again, this time to Maymyo, which was a second class hill station. We were here two years, during which time our regiment won the Gymkhana Cup" so it would seem that his memory was correct in this instance.The match must have been played during the period 1910 and 1913.I wonder who the Border Regiments' opponents were and what has happened to the impressive looking trophy.

Re. the Brodrick Forage Cap: I apologise for going on about this relatively unimportant and strange looking item but I have spent hours trying to identify the cap badge thinking that the "sort of wings/arms" were part of the badge. Eventually I discovered that they are actually a piece of fabric in the regimental colour on to which the badge is attached. If anyone has Ralph May's book "Glory is no Compensation" you can find a photo of Colour-Sergeant W. Bartholomew DCM wearing a Brodrick forage cap (page 38). What a relief to find another member of the Border Regiment wearing the aforementioned item, I had begun to think that Charlie had patronised a fancy dress shop!
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby plbramham » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:32 pm

Re cap badge: Yes because it is all "bleached white" on the old photo, it does make it appear that the "arms/wings" are part of it - I initially also thought it was the same item , but noticed the shape of the "standard" Border badge in the middle.

No idea about the trophy's fate. I reckon the vast majority were scrapped, either in the 1930s, then another silver scrap boom in the 1960s/1970s, and of course at present. There were a heck of a lot of trophies - weapons meetings,shooting, football, rugby, boxing, cross-country,etc., so I guess their historical value was superseded by the value of their silver. Nowadays we award trophies in chrome plated plastic, previously stainless steel or pewter. I suppose back then silver was the only material hence all trophies were made from it thus scrapped when silver became no longer "relatively" cheap, and thus most ended in the "melting pot". (Remember regimental postings during Victorian/Edwardian years in Malta/India/Burma, where silver and the craftsmen were "cheap" I bet that cup did not bear a British silver hallmark!)

An "off the wall" idea , maybe it was in Burma during WW2 when the Japanese invaded, thus could have been lost that way? I'm sure a lot of local craftsmen could have melted it down and refashioned it's metal content?

It may still exist somewhere though - with a private collector or maybe at the regimental museum in Carlisle? - Maybe even still with the regiment. I remember an awful load of Silver in the officer's mess in Omagh, Northern Ireland in the late 1980s.

Of course there's a much stronger chance it was won in later years by another regiment after this photo , so it could be with any regiment. (I believe,by the "shields" around the base, it was competed for annually, not a "one -off" competition.)

Regards Paul
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby kerchi » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:45 am

wallflower wrote:Re. the Brodrick Forage Cap: I apologise for going on about this relatively unimportant and strange looking item but I have spent hours trying to identify the cap badge thinking that the "sort of wings/arms" were part of the badge.

Certainly not unimportant! Details such as this make for interesting stories and discussions and I am glad you shared that with us. No questions are unimportant to ask as we all learn something new no matter how "small" the subject might appear to be.

Paul's comment in the previous post regarding the trophy does make a lot sense so I tend to agree with him.
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby plbramham » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:55 am

Someone once said to me "There's no such thing as a "stupid" question". Completely correct, that is how you find accurate information, by sharing details.
To be honest , I had never heard of that "cap name" before - you have added something to my knowledge now I've looked it up!
Badges, insignia etc. are just as important as medals etc, just that aspect gets neglected.
Thank you very much for this most interesting "aside".
More photos please?
Best Wishes Paul
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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby kerchi » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:01 pm

wallflower wrote:Re.the Gymkhana Cup: In his "memoirs" my Grandfather states " ........we were on the move again, this time to Maymyo, which was a second class hill station. We were here two years, during which time our regiment won the Gymkhana Cup" so it would seem that his memory was correct in this instance.The match must have been played during the period 1910 and 1913.I wonder who the Border Regiments' opponents were and what has happened to the impressive looking trophy.

Anne, I think it is great that you actually have memoirs that provide you with so much information. I would love to have something as valuable as that but alas I don't, however, I am thankful that I do have a couple of photos and some basic knowledge of my great grandfather.

Regarding Maymyo, which I find an interesting place before the war (1st Battalion) and during the war (4th Battalion), what else did Charles do during his time there - if you don't mind me asking ;-)
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

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Re: Charles Nicholls and 1st Battalion Rugby Team

Postby kerchi » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:02 pm

plbramham wrote:Badges, insignia etc. are just as important as medals etc, just that aspect gets neglected.

Paul, in many instances I actually find badges and insignia more interesting than medals, but that's just me, especially after seeing so many fascinating items from your photo collections on the forum ;-)
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

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