Hamilton County

Capt. Kenneth O. Nichols


All For Naught

Mrs. Harold Hanson of this city has just received a copy of The Stars and Stripes, weekly newspaper of the U.S. armed forces in the British Isles, which was mailed to her by her husband nearly a month ago. Included in the issue were pictures of several Iowa boys training at their various duties and also this following little article about 1st Lieut. Kenneth Nichols of this city.

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHERN IRELAND—The shortage of eggs had 1st Lt. Kenneth Nichols, of Webster City, Iowa, dreaming nights about fried eggs, baked eggs—any kind of eggs.

When his battalion bought a number of chicks, he jumped at the chance to care for them. Now he’s back dreaming of eggs again. All the chicks are roosters.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA – June 22, 1942


Two Webster City Men in Service Reported Dead in Italy.

Two more members of the Iowa National Guard company which left Webster City in 1941—Capt. Kenneth Nichols and 1st Sgt. Charles Meyers—have been killed in action in Italy, relatives here were notified Thursday.

At the same time another company member—Pvt. Larkin B. Woodie, son of Mrs. Lydia Woodie of this city—was listed as wounded in action in Italy in a war department message sent to his mother.

(Picture of Capt. Kenneth Nichols included in article)

A report that a fourth soldier—Sgt. John Baker, of this city—was missing in action, could not be verified Friday since Baker’s relatives are now located in Washington, D.C.

Captain Nichols, 34, son of Mrs. H. J. Nichols of this city, was killed in action July 11, his mother was advised Thursday by a message from the captain’s wife now living in Akron, Ohio.

Was Second Lieutenant

The Webster City officer, a second lieutenant when he left to begin training with the infantry unit at Camp Claiborne, was last heard from in a letter written June 23.

Captain Nichols had served in the Iowa National Guard since 1926 and was prominent in that unit for many years before the present conflict started. Before leaving for service, he was employed at the Beam manufacturing company. He received his promotion to first lieutenant and then to captain while serving overseas and was assigned to command his organization while in England.

The infantry outfit was stationed in North Ireland, England and North Africa before being transferred to Italy where it has met up with tough fighting as a unit of the Fifth army, 34th regiment.

Besides his wife, a son, Bruce, and his mother, Captain Nichols leaves two brothers, Louis and Howard, both of this city.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, July 21, 1944

Impressive Service Honors Officer Killed in Italy Action.

A simple and impressive memorial service in honor of Capt. Kenneth O. Nichols, who lost his life on the Italian front on July 1, was held in the Universalist church Sunday at 3 p.m.  The church had been made beautiful with garden flowers and a few baskets of gladiolas and other flowers went by friends, mostly from a distance. A bank of flags of the allied nations and tall U.S. flags added to the appearance of the church.

The American Legion was represented by a large group of its members of the United Service Women’s organization and other patriotic groups were represented by some of their membership. Also, the circle of the Methodist church of which Mrs. H. J. Nichols is president, came in a group.

Choir Opens Service.
The organ was played softly for fifteen minutes while the congregation assembled. The vested choir opened the service and sang again at its close. The service was conducted by the pastor of the church, Dr. Effie McCollum Jones, who was assisted by the Rev. M. L. Aldridge, of Woodstock, Illinois, a longtime friend of Captain and Mrs. Nichols.  In presenting him, Dr. Jones said that Mr. Aldridge is a veteran of World  War I and that he went into the service, not as a chaplain as he might well have done, but as a combatant and that he was promoted to the rank of Captain of infantry before the end of that war. She did not say, as should have been said, that Captain Aldridge was a casualty in that war and received the Purple Heart and also the Silver Star Medal for gallantry beyond the ordinary, as he requested that such mention not be made.

Captain Aldridge spoke feelingly about those things which our men in service have a right to expect as a result of their sacrifices and he said that the home front has just as grave responsibilities as the men on the service fronts of the world is to be brought to sanity and peace. He dwelt especially on the need for a deeply reliable faith and spirit of life is to be loved worthily and fruitfully.

Dr. Jones spoke of Captain Nichols’ warm-hearted personality and his practical religious faith as he wrought it into character and conduct.  She also dwelt on his sense of duty in this war, which he hoped would make possible a lasting and a worthy peace so that his own son and other boys of that son’s generation need not be called upon to repeat the hard experiences through which young fathers of this generation felt compelled to go by love of country and of liberty and a devotion to their own families and homes.

Born In Nebraska.
Captain Kenneth O. Nichols was born in Wymore, Nebraska, on March 17, 1910. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Homer J. Nichols, brought their family to this neighborhood, when Kenneth was about 12 years old and he was educated in the local schools and in Lombard college. He joined the National Guard as soon as he was old enough be admitted and left here in February, 1941, with Company E, as a second lieutenant. Company E went to North Ireland with the first convoy of the 34th division and later was in service in England and Algiers. His period of action combat began in March of this year. He had been promoted to captaincy in April, 1942, and was very close to his men and greatly beloved by each one of them.

He leaves his wife, who was Harriet Hale of Stoughton, Wisconsin, a college mate to whom he was married in November, 1934, and a son Bruce, age 3 ½ years, who have been living in Akron, Ohio.  He is survived also by his mother, Mrs. H. J. Nichols and two brothers, Louis and Howard, all of this city. He was a member of the Universalist church and at the time of the departure of Company for Camp Claiborne, he was employed at the Beam plant where he was high esteemed both by the firm and by his fellow employees.

Mrs. Kenneth Nichol’s brother, Harry Hale, of Stoughton, Wis., who came for the memorial service, left for his home Monday morning in company with the Rev. M. L. Aldridge.


Source: Daily Freeman Journal, August 21, 1944

…It has always been tough for us to write anything on the eulogy side—something oratorically dramatic—so we were glad to receive an excerpt from a letter sent by Staff Sgt. Myrl Ray to his mother, Mrs. Edward Ray of this city. Myrl, who used to carry papers at the same time as we did years ago, is now serving as a supply sergeant with the Iowa National Guard boys attached to the 34th division in Italy. Portions of his letter sum up more ably than any planned writeup could the deep feeling the boys of the company had for their late Captain Kenneth O. Nichols of this city, who was killed July 1 in the Italian fighting. The following few sentences depict the unique place Captain Nichols held in the hearts and the lives of his men whom he had guided since taking over the command when the company was in the British Isles:

“Some of us older men in the company have been talking of writing a letter to Nick’s wife, but I don’t know if we will get it done or not.

“I called him Nick because we always called him that when he was with us. If one of us called him captain, he would say, ‘Dammit we’re friends, aren’t we? Well, call me Nick—(pause)—unless some big shot comes around.’

“He was one swell guy, and if ever a man was well liked it was he. And he had just as much grit as any of them and a lot more than most. I think everyone should know that he died doing something for his ‘boys.’

“He could have told someone else to do what he was doing, but he knew it was dangerous so he did it himself. There was never a man in the company who didn’t have a good word for him."

Source: By Maxi, Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA – September 14, 1944

NOTES: Kenneth Otto Nichols was born Mar. 17, 1919, to Homer J. and Ora Nichols. He died July 1, 1944, and is buried in the Florence American Cemetery, Via Cassia, Italy Plot: E Row: 12 Grave: 19.

He was a Commander with Co. E, 133rd Regiment, 34th Division and served in the British Isles, 1942; North Africa, 1943; and was killed in action in Italy, July 1, 1944. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA
World War II Memorial
World War II Honoree
National Purple Heart Hall of Honor