Arthur Frederick Crane Nicholls

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Arthur Frederick Crane Nicholls
Born (1911-02-06)6 February 1911
Hampstead, London
Died 11 February 1944(1944-02-11) (aged 33)
Buried at Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery, Albania
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1933–1944
Rank Brigadier
Service number 62269
Unit Special Operations Executive
Battles/wars World War II

Brigadier Arthur Frederick Crane Nicholls GC, ERD (6 February 1911 – 1944) was awarded the George Cross for gallantry and leadership on active service with the Special Operations Executive in Albania in 1944. He is the only member of the Coldstream Guards to have been awarded with the medal.[1]


Nicholls was born in Hampstead on 6 February 1911. He attended Shardlow Hall, Marlborough College in Wiltshire, studied law at Cambridge University and was commissioned into the 86th (East Anglian) (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Brigade, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army as a second lieutenant in August 1933,[2] promoted lieutenant on 3 August 1936[3] and transferred to the Coldstream Guards (Supplementary Reserve) in May 1937.[4] He was mobilised in 1939, went to France with the 2nd Battalion and was then posted to the Headquarters of the First Division as an Intelligence Officer to make best use of his knowledge of foreign languages.

World War II[edit]

He joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in March 1942 as a Staff Officer and, in October 1943 parachuted into Albania to serve as Staff Officer to Brigadier Edmund "Trotsky" Davies with the task of inciting resistance to the German occupation and tying down enemy forces.

Their Headquarters was attacked by enemy forces in January 1944 and they escaped to the mountains, pursued by the Germans and local militia. Davies was wounded and captured on 8 January 1944. Nicholls led the remains of the party to safety through dreadful winter weather. He suffered severe frostbite during the escape and had to have both his feet amputated, after this he was transported by being dragged on his greatcoat.

He died from his wounds on 11 February 1944 at the age of 33, after managing to make a final report on the situation in Albania to British authorities. He is commemorated in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, the Tirana Park Memorial Cemetery.[5] He was Mentioned in Despatches on 1 June 1944.[6]

His George Cross was gazetted on 26 February 1946, and dated 1 March 1946. The citation reads:[7]

The King has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the George Cross, in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, to: —

Major (temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) (acting Brigadier) Arthur Frederick Crane NICHOLLS (62269), Coldstream Guards (London).

— London Gazette

Research after his death by Lance Corporal Ian Tindall found that Nicholls was also entitled to receive the Emergency Reserve Decoration. His daughter applied and the award was gazetted in the London Gazette 47 years after he died in Albania, on 26 November 1991.[8] All of Nicholls's medals have been presented to his regiment by his daughter.


  1. ^ Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34020. p. 756. 2 February 1934. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34327. p. 756. 2 February 1934. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34400. p. 3300. 21 May 1937. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  5. ^ "Casualty details: Nicholls, Arthur Frederick Crane". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36539. p. 2520. 30 May 1944. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37485. p. 1173. 26 February 1946. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52726. p. 18090. 25 November 1991. Retrieved 2008-03-27.