Athol Miller Nicholas

July 21, 2015


John Pern Nicholas and his wife, Mary Ellen, nee McSheedy had a large family of seven children, six boys and one girl. Four of the boys attended St Patrick’s College –

Athol Miller Nicholas- – SPC 1912-1914

Bryon Fitzgerald Nicholas- SPC 1909-1911

Eric Sutton Nicholas- – SPC 1916-1917

George Matson Nicholas- SPC 1902-1903

The other two brothers, John Percy Hague and Francis Stephen did not attend the College. Francis Stephen did enlist for service in WWI, (Service No. 5814) embarking on 2 October 1916 and returning to Australia in May 1918.

Of the four boys who went to St Patrick’s College, three enlisted. Their details follow.

NICHOLAS, Athol Miller- – – – SPC 1912-1914

DoB:- – 24 Sept 1897, Newmarket, VIC

Father:- – John Pern Nicholas

Mother:- – Mary Ellen, nee McSheehy

Athol Miller Nicholas was a boarder at St Patrick’s from Trafalgar, a small town in Gippsland. Athol matriculated in 1914, completing the following subjects: French Language and Literature (Honours), Latin Language and Literature, English Language and Literature, and British History. He was Dux of the Senior Public Class, for which he was awarded a gold watch.

Service No:- 5847

Rank:- – Private

Unit:- – 22nd Battalion

Athol Miller Nicholas enlisted on 1 September 1916. He was a single man, aged 18 years and 11 months. His height was recorded as five feet five inches, and he had a fresh complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. At the time of his enlistment Athol was a medical student.

He embarked from Melbourne aboard the Nestor on 2 October 1916, and disembarked at Plymouth on 16 November. On 9 January 1917, Private Nicholas was attached to the 22nd Battalion. Just over one month later, on 13 February 1917, he was returning to Australia on the Ulysses, having undergone his medical examination, and was discharged from the AIF as being medically unfit on 1 February 1918.

While there is no mention of what exactly Athol’s medical problem was that forced his discharge, there was an entry on his war file on 12 November 1917 that a warrant had been issued. There is also correspondence from 19 June 1918 from a Lt Col A A M C, Inspector General of the Insane, Lunacy Department, Victoria, requesting a copy of Athol’s complete service record from the AIF Base Records department. The question remains unanswered as to whether Athol’s discharge from the armed forces was due to a mental health issue which necessitated him being institutionalised, hence the warrant being required for admission into an asylum.

In May 1939, there is correspondence from Athol to Base Records in Canberra, requesting a copy of his discharge documentation for the Public Service Inspector in Victoria. This suggests that whatever the issues Athol may have had at the end of the war, by the late 1930s he was recovered enough to gain employment in the public service.

Athol Miller Nicholas died on 31 January 1964 at the age of 66, in Adelaide, South Australia. His death certificate states that he was an artist by profession, and that he died having suffered from bowel cancer for around five years, succumbing ultimately to bronchopneumonia. Athol had never married. He was buried at the West Terrace AIF Cemetery in Adelaide.