Private Percy Raymond Nicklin

© 2015 Royston Williamson

Thank you to Jane Anthony for the following research.

Although most bereaved families in Dorking lost only one son during WW1, a significant number lost more. One of these families was the Nicklins of Falkland Grove who lost their two younger sons in 1917 and 1918.

Percy’s father George Tice Nicklin was born and bought up in Guildford, his father died when he was young, and his mother and sister had a fruiter and florists shop in Guildford High Street.  George was apprenticed to a draper in Guildford, and went on to establish a  business with his own shop in Dorking.

In 1888 he married Fanny Softly in Havant, Hampshire and by 1891 they had set up home at 36, Dorking High Street.  They already had two children, as well as three draper’s assistants and two servants living in the household. 

By 1901, the family had expanded to six children, and they had moved to the Cotmandene. The family comprised of three girls and three boys; the oldest being Winfred born in about 1889, she was followed by George Norman the following year. Another daughter Doris was born in 1892, and Percy Raymond in 1894.  The two youngest Herbert and Frances Clare were born in 1898 and 1900.  In 1911 the family had moved to Falkland House at 4 Falkland Grove, which has now been demolished with a block of flats built on the site.

George Nicklin did not come from an affluent family but must have prospered.  He was a prominent in the towns commercial circles and he advertised widely in the local paper. At some point he moved his shop to new premises in South Street. Both Norman and Herbert attended Dorking High School but there is no reference to Percy having attended the school. His name does not appear on the Roll of Honour like that of his brother Herbert, who was also killed during the war.

In the 1911 census, Percy was working as assistant in the drapers shop. There are no details as to when Percy enlisted however he did enlist at Dorking, initially in The Huntingdon Cycling Battalion.  Cycling battalions were formed in 1885 and prior to the outbreak of WW1 were primarily involved in coastal patrols. After the outbreak of war Hunts Cyclists was one of 15 specialist cyclists’ battalions that were formed. At first, they were used for scouting, couriering and security patrols however the nature of trench warfare meant that most of the members were transferred to infantry regiments. It is estimated that during the course of the war more than 100,000 men used cycles at some point.

Percy was transferred to the 12th Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment.  This battalion was a service battalion formed in 1915; it was also a Bantam battalion, which was for soldiers of a small stature, so very possibly Percy was rather small.  By early 1918, the battalion had been vastly reduced and returned to reform at Pirbright.  They returned to the front in July where they were engaged in various actions including Ypres.  Percy died of wounds on 1st October 1918 and is buried at Lijssenthoek Cemetery.  The village of Lijssenthoek was close to the Ypres battlefield, but out of range of the artillery so a field casualty station was based there; more than 900, soldiers are buried there including Private Percy Raymond Nicklin who is also commemorated on the South Street Memorial.

The Nicklin family remained in Dorking   Percy was the second son to be killed during the war, his younger brother Herbert was killed in 1917.  His older brother, George Norman who was the only son to survive the war, and attended St John’s College Cambridge in 1908.  After graduating he worked at the Bank of England before joining the Indian Army Reserve as an officer.  After the war he took Holy Orders, becoming vicar of Cobham, Surrey and later Dawlish. His youngest sister Frances Clare qualified at a Doctor in 1924 and married another doctor who was also a professor of medicine at Cambridge University. His oldest sibling, Winifred, never married and remained living at Roman Road in Dorking until her death.

Born Dorking, Surrey
Lived Dorking, Surrey
Son of George Tice and Fanny (nee Softley)
Regiment 12th Battalion. Suffolk Regiment
Number 63254
Former Regiment 1882 Hunts Cyclist Battalion
Date of Death 1st October 1918
Place of Death Ypres, Belgium
Cause of Death Died of wounds
Age 24
Cemetery Lyssenthoeck Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium

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