Steele-Nicholson, John Edwin Charles Averell (No. 1591275)

Steele-Nicholson, John Edwin Charles Averell (John)

Sergeant (Air Gunner)

No. 1591275, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in an aircraft accident on Monday 14 September 1942 (aged 20)

Buried:

Kirkinner Cemetery, Wigtownshire, Scotland (Grave 604)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Trent College, Long Eaton, Derbyshire

Rockport School Craigavad

Moy and District War Memorial, Co. Tyrone

Dungannon and District War Memorial, Co. Tyrone

BIOGRAPHY

John Edwin Charles Averell (John) Steele-Nicholson was born in India on 1 August 1922, and he was a son of Robert Charles Henry (Charles) and Lydia Mary Noel Amelia (Ivy) Steele-Nicholson (nee Lloyd) of Balloo (Ballow) House, Bangor.  John’s uncles, Captain Alfred Francis James Steele-Nicholson, and Lieutenant William Herbert Hamilton Steele-Nicholson died on active service during the First World War.

John’s father was a Tea Planter in India (on the Jamirah Tea Estate in Dibrugarh, Assam) and in March 1920 he sailed from Calcutta to London aboard the City of Marseilles to prepare for his wedding.  Robert Charles Henry Steele-Nicholson and Lydia Mary Noel Amelia Lloyd were married on 18 August 1920 in Killyman Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Andrew’s), Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.

Robert Charles Henry (Charles) Steele-Nicholson, who was born on 1 October 1897 in Ballow House, Bangor, was a son of James and Maria Steele-Nicholson (nee Macartney).  Lydia Mary Noel Amelia (Ivy) Lloyd, who was born on 24 December 1893 in Benburb, was a daughter of Averell and Harriet Lloyd (nee Irwin) and she was a sister of Richard Averell (Dickie) Lloyd who played rugby and cricket for Ireland.  Averell Lloyd was agent for the Bruce Estate in Benburb and, after his father Richard died, Averell took over the Lloyd family farm at Tamnamore House, Tamnamore, Killyman, Dungannon.

In September 1920, the newly-weds travelled from Liverpool to Calcutta aboard the City of Exeter.  Charles was 42 and Ivy was 26.  In May 1924, Ivy and her two children, Kathleen (aged 2) and John (aged 1) sailed from Calcutta to London aboard the Margha.  The Steele-Nicholson family travelled regularly between India and Britain; in 1925/1926 Charles and Ivy with Charles (aged 8), Ivy (aged 8) and Lily (aged 2) sailed from London to Calcutta aboard the Dumana.  In November 1929 Charles and Ivy with Elfreda (aged 3) sailed from London to Bombay aboard the Rajputana and in February 1932 Ivy and Elfreda (aged 7) sailed from London to Bombay aboard the Ranchi.

Charles and Ivy Steele-Nicholson (nee Lloyd) had four children:

Harriet Kathleen (born around 1921 in India)

John Edwin Charles Averell (born 1 August 1922 in India)

Elfreda (born 4 August 1924 in Belfast)

Richard James Henry (James, born 5 May 1934)

After the Steele-Nicholson family returned from India to Ireland they lived in Balloo (Ballow) House, Bangor, and they also had an address at 8 Raglan Road, Bangor.

Robert Charles Henry (Charles) Steele-Nicholson died on 16 November 1937 and, after he died, Ivy moved to Tamnamore House.

Lydia Mary Noel Amelia (Ivy) Steele-Nicholson (nee Lloyd) died on 3 September 1980.

John Edwin Charles Averell (John) Steele-Nicholson attended Rockport School, Craigavad, and from 1936 until 1941, he attended Trent College in Derbyshire.  He joined the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) in 1939 and was promoted Sergeant in 1940.  He was Head of Hanbury House from 1940 to 1941.

During the Second World War Sergeant John Edwin Charles Averell Steele-Nicholson (No. 1591275) served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and he died on 14 September 1942.  He was one of an eight-man crew aboard a Consolidated B-24 Liberator Mark II aircraft (AL624) in 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit that took off at 11.00 am from RAF Burn in Yorkshire on a cross country navigation exercise.  The aircraft crashed on Drigmorn Hill, Millfore near Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway and the other seven crew members who were killed that day were:

  • Pilot Officer Ivan Harold Betts (aged 31) from Radipole, Dorsetshire
  • Sergeant Derek Eaton Warner (aged 20) from Bromley, Kent
  • Sergeant John Churley Freestone (aged 29) from Stanmore, Winchester
  • Sergeant George Douglas Calder (aged 24), Royal Australian Air Force
  • Sergeant Geoffrey Crisp Boar (aged 27) from Ealing, Middlesex
  • Sergeant Victor Frederick Talley
  • Sergeant James Bowrey from Hanham, Gloucestershire

Sergeant John Edwin Charles Averell Steele-Nicholson (No. 1591275) was 20 when he died, and he was buried in Kirkinner Cemetery, Wigtownshire.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

OF BALLOW, BANGOR, N. IRELAND

‘AND THIS IS THE PROMISE

THAT HE HATH PROMISED US,

EVEN ETERNAL LIFE’

Sergeant John Edwin Charles Averell Steele-Nicholson (No. 1591275) is commemorated in Trent College, Long Eaton, Derbyshire; in Rockport School Craigavad; on Moy and District War Memorial, Co Tyrone, and on Dungannon and District War Memorial, Co. Tyrone.

During the Second World War both of John’s sisters, Kathleen and Elfreda, served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).