Wristwatch with mesh guard: Private A M Nicholson, 5 Battalion AIF

Accession Number REL38751.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Leather, Nickel-plated brass, Silver
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1915-1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Silver watch with nickel plated brass mesh guard over the watch face and an unattached leather wrist strap. The glass is missing from the face. The face has two dials, one for hours and minutes, and a smaller one to count seconds. All the numbers on the face are black, except for the number '12' which is red. The number 6 is not shown as it is obscured by the smaller seconds dial located at the bottom of the watch face. The mesh guard is impressed 'RD 656724' on one lug and 'P.PAT.11638/16' on the other. The leather wrist strap is double layered. The top layer is 9 mm wide and would have threaded through the watch and mesh guard's lugs to hold it all together. The bottom layer of the strap was also 9 mm wide, until it reached the middle, where it increased to 28 mm to provide protection to the hand from the back of the metal watch. The thicker part of the strap is impressed '[MA]DE IN ENGLAND'. The strap has a metal buckle and six holes to secure around the wrist. It has been damaged, some pieces are missing and the buckle is rusted.

History / Summary

3368 Private Arthur Marshall Nicholson was born at Brighton, Victoria, the son of Samuel Henry and Hannah Eliza Nicholson. He was working as a grocer when he enlisted in the AIF on 7 July 1915. He embarked from Melbourne for Egypt on 11 October 1915 with the 11th reinforcements of 5 Battalion. Nicholson served in Egypt until 25 March 1916 when he embarked for France, arriving at Marseilles five days later. He served in France and took part in his unit's first major action in France, at Pozieres in the Somme Valley, in July 1916. On 24 December 1916 Private Nicholson was admitted to hospital with trench feet. He was sent to England and was in hospital until May 1917. He undertook further training at Perham Downs for two months before rejoining his unit in Belgium in late August 1917. On 20 September 1917 Nicholson took part in an attack at Menin Road, near Ypres in Belgium, capturing German territory. Throughout the following day, 21 September, German artillery fire harassed the Australian positions and as the day went on became increasingly accurate. At some point during the day, Private Nicholson was hit by shrapnel in his left leg and ankle. He was first treated by the 6th Australian Field Ambulance, who then transferred him to the 17th (British)Casualty Clearing Station, where he died of his wounds. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. The watch features a mesh guard, specially made to help protect the watch face from the rigours of trench warfare. It was probably damaged when Nicholson was wounded and was returned to his family among his personal effects after his death.