The Soldier's Details

First Name:
William James
Nick Name:
Regimental #:
Headquarters Company, No. 1 Platoon Signals
Place of Birth:
Donnybrook, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Albert Edward Nicholls
Mothers's Name:
Elizabeth Ann Nicholls (nee McKee)
Pre-war Occupation:
Djakarta War Cemetery, Plot 4, Row L, Grave 9, Age 32.
Cause of Death:
Bacillary Dysentery
Place of Death:
Bicycle Camp Hospital, Batavia
Date of Death:
Petamboran Cemetery, British Section Grave No. 102

General Description

Bill Nicholls enlisted AIF 10 Aug 1940 and later joined 2/4th MGB’s Headquarters Company No. 1 Platoon Signals as a signaller under Commanding Officer Lt. Curnow who was KIA Hill 2009, Ulu Padan.
When ‘Aquitania’ sailed into Fremantle on 15 Jan 1942 for one night to secure further supplies and pick reinforcements for 2/4th, the soldiers on board had been ordered nobody was going ashore.  This riled in particular the 2/4th men, who had been away many months training in SA and NT.  They desperately wanted to see their families before heading off to war.
Several hundred machine gunners climbed off the Aquitania – most were able to reboard the next day before her midday departure, but some over-zealous policemen locked up a large number and others could not find transport.  At least 90 well-trained machine gunners were left behind.
Others from Bill’s Platoon include Ramage, Pryce and Merve Wilkinson.  At least 8 men from No. 1 Platoon lost their lives at Hill 200 Ulu Padan on 11 Feb.
They sailed out of Fremantle a few weeks later, but with Singapore about to fall, were landed at Java where they joined forces with Allied soldiers.  They were all taken POWs of Japan in March.
Please read further about those AWOL
Nicholls became sick on 30.9.1942 at Bicycle Camp, Java where he died on 13 Oct 1942 of bacillary dysentery.  Bill was one of 5 2/4th men to die in Java of the same illness.

Please read about Bicycle Camp, Batavia

Read about Java and POW Camps.
Bicycle Camp Batavia, 1942-3

Below:  Jakarta War Cemetery

Nicholls W J



NICHOLLS, Private, WILLIAM JAMES, WX7645, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 13 October 1942. Age 32. Son of Albert Edward and Elizabeth Ann Nicholls, of Donnybrook, Western Australia. Grave Ref. 4. L. 9.
Bill’s parents were notified of his death in October 1943.



Bill Nicholl’s name is inscribed on the Donnybrook War Memorial.
Bill’s parents married in Victoria in 1902.  Born in Bundgaree they soon after moved to WA, to Donnybrook where their only child, Bill was born in 1910.
Bill Nicholls attended Wesley College, South Perth.

Bill’s holiday – he enlisted about 6 months later on 10 August 1940.
Bill was 32 years old when he died.
Bill’s father died in 1946.



Bill’s mother Elizabeth Ann Nicholls died 1955 at Donnybrook.


Camp Locations:

  • Bicycle Camp, Batavia, Jakarta - Java ***