A poignant day as Jim remembers his cousin

Jim Nichol with the wreath in memory of his cousin who was killed on Christmas Day 1944 whilst on duty with the RAF. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Jim Nichol with the wreath in memory of his cousin who was killed on Christmas Day 1944 whilst on duty with the RAF. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

Christmas Day will be an even more poignant occasion than usual for one Ashington man.

It wil be the 70th anniversary of the death of his cousin in the Second World War.

Jim Nichol and his wife Ruth will plant a wooden cross bearing a red poppy on it in their garden in Kenilworth Road.

It will be a memorial to Jim’s cousin, also named Jim Nichol, who lost his life on Christmas Day in 1944 – the day of his 22nd birthday.

The couple will also lay a wreath in North Seaton Community Centre where there is an inscribed plaque.

Jim, who attended Bedlington Grammar School and who was born in the same North Seaton Village as Sir John Hall, joined the RAF and worked his way through the ranks, a warrant officer, a navigator and a flight sergeant who was based in Belgium.

And it was whilst on act of duty that tragedy struck.

“Instead of coming back to England, Jim was flying to Belgium when the Germans fired at the aeroplanes,” said Mr Nichol.

“The bomb exploded and the shrapnel hit Jim and killed him. He was the only fatality.

“During the First World War, the English and the Germans lay aside their guns on Christmas Day and had a game of football then the next day set about killing each other.

“Unfortunately in the Second World War they were still fighting on Christmas Day.

“We still think about Jim on a regular basis, and with this being the 70th anniversary, we will do so even more.”

Mr Nichol also recalled how is grandson came across his cousin’s grave in Belgium by pure chance.

“My grandson Jordan was at the Hirst Park School when they went for a trip to Paris and the teacher decided to take them to Belgium,” he said.

“They visited the veterans’ war dead cemetery and saw our Jim’s gravestone, which was a coincidence.”