Company Quarter Sergeant Major Duncan Nicholl, aged 35, died of wounds on 16th December, serving with the 2nd/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Born in Berkswell in 1881, he was the younger son of parents John William and Eleanor Nicholl (née Sumner), who were both schoolteachers at the elementary school in the village. John was born in Giggleswick, Yorkshire but had moved to Stafford by 1877, where he married Gloucester-born Eleanor, who was living in Wolstanton.
By 1881, the couple had moved to Berkswell, with their oldest son, Charles William (1877-1950). Their son, Duncan, was born in Berkswell just three weeks before the 1881 census was taken. John and Eleanor both taught at the National Schools for the next 25 years or so, moving from the School House to Jasmine Cottage, Berkswell when they retired. Having retired as a school master, John then became a coal merchant.
Duncan was baptised at Berkswell Parish Church on 29th May 1881, and attended his parents’ school before continuing his education at King Henry VIII School, Coventry. On leaving school he joined the London City and Midland Bank and worked as a bank clerk until his enlistment in the Army.
He married Marian Daisy Whitmore at Cubbington on 4th August 1910 and the couple moved in with Marian’s parents in High Street, Cubbington. Marian died early in 1914, aged 34, and it seems that Duncan moved back to his parents’ home in Berkswell, as he gave his address as Berkswell when he enlisted in the Army. In October 1915, his mother Eleanor died, aged 76, so she was spared the knowledge of the death of her younger son on active service.
Duncan was a bellringer at Berkswell and a muffled Quarter Peal (1260 changes) of Grandsire Doubles was rung by Berkswell Ringers on 11th November 2018 and dedicated to Company Quartermaster Duncan Nicholl. The Coventry Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers website notes that at the time of Duncan’s death he was engaged to a local girl, who went on to set up a school on Berkswell Estate.
Duncan died in a base hospital as a result of a shrapnel wound. He was buried in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension and is also commemorated locally on the war memorial at Berkswell.
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