Family plot of Canterbury’s first VC recipient to be repaired this week

Ken Wright at Bromley Cemetery. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Ken Wright at Bromley Cemetery. Photo: Geoff Sloan
An English Korean War veteran’s campaign to have the family plot of Canterbury’s first Victoria Cross recipient repaired following earthquake damage is on the brink of victory.

Henry Nicholas VC. Photo: Supplied
Henry Nicholas VC. Photo: Supplied
The toppled headstone of Sergeant Henry Nicholas, killed in action in France shortly before the World War 1 armistice in 1918, will be repositioned in Bromley cemetery this week.

The New Zealand Remembrance Army charity in conjunction with Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand secured the necessary permission from the city council to undertake the remedial work.

“It’s been approved, we’re waiting to hear from a mason and we’ll pay the bill, it’s a nationally significant grave,” said Remembrance Army chief executive Simon Strombom.

Once the headstone is upright, Remembrance Army volunteers will spruce up the lettering and add a permanent, ceramic poppy. The project should cost between $1500 and $2000.

A ceremony will be scheduled to officially unveil the rejuvenated plot, possibly next month to coincide with the anniversary of New Zealand forces claiming Chunuk Bair on August 8, 1915, during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.

Wright first noticed the Nicholas family plot when visiting from Dunedin 20 years ago.

He moved to Christchurch last November and was appalled the grave had not been repaired since the 2011 earthquakes.

Ken Wright’s bid to have the damaged family plot of Canterbury’s first Victoria Cross recipient...
Ken Wright’s bid to have the damaged family plot of Canterbury’s first Victoria Cross recipient repaired is close to fruition. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The 86-year-old Londoner was happier when updated saying: “It’s bloody brilliant, great.”

Lincoln-born Nicholas was awarded the VC for his heroic exploits when storming a German machine gun nest in Belgium in December 1917.

The 27-year-old then fought in France, where he was killed on October 29, 1918. Hostilities ended on November 11.

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