Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Second Lieutenant Harold Percival Nixon





Harold Percival Nixon was born on 25 May 1896 at 61 Benwell Terrace, Belfast, the sixth of seven children of mercantile clerk Alexander Nixon and his wife Annie (nee Morrison). Educated at the Municipal Technical Institute, by 1911 he was living with his family in Hopefield Avenue, Belfast. That year he began a five year apprenticeship as a flax manager with the York Street Flax Spinning Company, Belfast.

Nixon enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 1 September 1914 (No.1075 – later Corps of Hussars No.71225), overstating his age by a year. He embarked for France with D Squadron on 1 May 1915.

On 6 June at Carvin Nixon was punished for a series of offences over the previous two days – for being "late for stables" (two days Field Punishment No.2), and "When on Main Guard absent from Guardroom" and "When a prisoner under open arrest being outside camp precincts" (three days Field Punishment No.1).

Nixon was promoted to lance corporal (unpaid) on 15 August 1917. On 20 June he had applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He departed for the UK at the end of September and on 9 November 1917 reported for duty at the No.7 Officer Cadet Battalion at Fermoy. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on 1 May 1918 and posted to the Wiltshire Regiment. Soon after he embarked for France, where he was posted to the 6th Battalion.

The 6th Battalion saw action in Belgium during the Advance to Victory offensive in the last months of the war. On 25 October 1918 they were near the town of Warcoing on the River Scheldt (l'Escault). According to the battalion war diary:

Patrolling on River L'Escault front. House at Lock 3. Captured & post established. 1 O.R. wounded. Lieut. T. Wing took over command of 'D' Coy for Capt. C.E. Daniel.

... and the following day:

2nd Lieut. Nixon killed. 2 O.R. wounded.

Nixon had been wounded by shrapnel, and died later the same day. According to a report in the Belfast News-Letter:

Only a few hours before his death he was commended for good work in connection with a patrol.

The Northern Whig reported on 16 November that:

Mr. A. Nixon, 12, Hopefield Avenue, Belfast, has received a gracious letter of sympathy from a Belgian family at Mouscron on the death in action of his son, Second-Lieut. H. P. Nixon, 6th Batt. Wiltshire Regiment, last month. The deceased was in the force which released Mouscron from the Germans. Mr. and Mrs. Nixon have received a telegram of sympathy from the King and Queen in their loss.

Nixon was buried about 60 yards south-west of Clerquant Farm, between Dottingies and  Warcoing (map reference 37B.12.b.9.7). In 1919 his body was exhumed and re-buried at Warcoing Churchyard, Pecq, Hainaut, Belgium, grave located in the north-west part, close to the entrance. The information was communicated to his family in a letter which stated:

I beg to inform you that it has been found necessary to exhume the bodies buried in this area, and to re-inter them in ceneteries, and the body of the above mentioned Officer has accordingly been removed and buried in Warcoing Communal Cemetery, East of Roubaix. The new grave has been duly marked with a cross bearing all particulars and registered in this office. The removal has been undertaken with every measure of care and reverence, and the re-burial conducted in the presence of a Military Chaplain.

His gravestone inscription reads:

26TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 22



Both of Nixon's brothers served in the war, Robert in the US Army's 129th Infantry, and Cecil Albert in the 10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.


Belfast City Cemetery (Old City Section), Section H2, plot 553


Newspaper image from the Belfast Evening Telegraph kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com). CWGC gravestone image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org. Belfast City Cemetery image sourced from facebook page 'Practical Lest We Forget'