Sgt Everett Clinton Nichol, 14th Field Company 25 May 1944

Sgt Everett Clinton Nichol
Sgt Everett Clinton Nichol's headstone Cassino Commonweath Cemetery

Everett Clinton Nichol was born to Edward Stanley and Hazel Nichol of Truax, SK. Everett came from a big family; he had five sisters and six brothers when he enlisted in the 14th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers 19 September 1939 in Regina, SK. He declared he had been working as a mechanic and as a cook’s helper on his attestation paper.

Sapper Nichol trained with the unit in Dundurn, SK and qualified as a Class 3 Storeman. The unit was posted to Camp Petawawa in Ontario in October 1940 and he was appointed Lance Corporal in January 1941. The unit was shipped out and arrived in England in August 1941.  He qualified as a Group ‘C’ Pioneer in August 1942 and was promoted to corporal in January 1943. Corporal Nichol was promoted to sergeant in May and arrived in Naples, Italy in November with the 5th Canadian Armoured Division.

Like the rest of the 5th Division Engineers, the unit arrived in Italy with only their personal kit. The next two months were spent collecting, repairing and maintaining kit left behind by the British 7th Armoured Division, the ‘Desert Rats’, who had arrived in Italy from North Africa via Syria only two months earlier before returning to the UK.  For their first months in ‘sunny Italy’, the company worked through rain and mud keeping roads and river crossings open.  By March, they were stationed in the Foggia area and preparing for their role with the 1st Canadian Corps in breaking through the Gustav Line.

On 24 May, the 14th Field Company was assigned the task of clearing and maintaining SPEY route and the lateral road from Portecorvo to Aquino in the Liri Valley.  With the armoured attack moving well and traffic loads heavy, this work stretched for two days and expanded to include HEART Route as the 5th Division passed through the 1st Canadian Division. By late evening on 25 May, the company had moved forward into an area covered with slit trenches and craters making further work in the dark was impossible. The sappers took what rest they could in the vacated slit trenches.  Just before midnight, there was an air raid and 20 bombs fell in the 14th Field Company bivouac area.  The Germans had discovered that dropping flares illuminated tarps even though they were covered with camouflage nets. Sergeant Nichol was blown out of his trench and died of a concussion. The War Diary reports that surrounding units, Canadian and British, suffered more dead and wounded and stresses that in comparison, they were “very fortunate”.  After the raid, the company focussed with some vigour on deepening the trenches.

Sergeant Nichols was buried in a temporary grave beside HEART Route, opposite the camp. He was later moved to the Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery.  He was 34 years old.

Note: Brother James served in the RCAF and brother Fred also served in the RCE.

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