A PAIR OF 12-BORE BOXLOCK EJECTORS, serial no. 15461 / 2,
for 1896, 30in. nitro reproved bold damascus barrels, the ribs engraved 'WESTLEY RICHARDS. 170. NEW BOND ST. LONDON.', and gold-inlaid '1' and '2' at the breech ends, 2 1/2in. chambers, the extractors individually serial numbered, bored approx. true cyl. and 3/4 choke, some pits, scroll-back treble-grip actions, Westley Richards patent toplevers engraved 'WESTLEY RICHARDS PATENT EJECTOR' and gold-inlaid '1' and '2', automatic safeties with gold-inlaid 'SAFE' details, the action flats marked with ANSON & DEELEY'S PATENT' and use numbered 14292 and 14293, and 'DEELEY'S PATENT EJECTOR' use numbered 6632 and 6633 (for Deeley patent ejector No. 4289 of 26th March 1886), No.2 action at fault, bold acanthus scroll engraving with ornate bordering, the undersides with decorative shell motifs, the triggerguards with small game scenes of pheasant and grouse, retaining very slight traces of original colour-hardening, 15 1/4in. figured stocks including 1/2in. wooden extensions (inked figuring) with steel heel and toe plates, weight 6lb. 9oz., in their brass-cornered leather bound oak case
Provenance: The vendor has kindly informed us this pair were formerly the property of his Grandfather, Claude Nicholson.
Brigadier Claude Nicholson is known the world over for his heroic defence of Calais in May 1940. After the invasion of the Low Countries and France by the Germans, the British Army was rapidly pushed back and forced to evacuate at Dunkirk.
To assist with the evacuation, Nicholson and his brigade were sent to Calais in May 1940 to keep the port open. At Calais, Nicholson with his troops and a certain number of French troops numbering about 4000 in total, managed to hold up two German armoured divisions long enough to permit the evacuation from Dunkirk.
On the afternoon of May 24th 1940, two hundred German tanks besieged Calais and it was clear that the outer perimeter could no longer be held. However, it was held until darkness fell and maintained the next day. The following day the Germans passed a flag of truce to Brigadier Nicholson but he refused to surrender stating, "Tell the Germans that if they want Calais, they will have to fight for it".
He had in his possession a message from Anthony Eden, the Secretary for War, telling him that every day he continued to hold out was of the greatest help to the B.E.F. Nicholson had every intention of fulfilling the trust placed in him. He also received a telegram from Winston Churchill stating that "Every hour you continue to exist is of the greatest help to the B.E.F." Churchill also added "Evacuation will not (repeat not) take place." Winston Churchill later wrote that he felt physically sick after sending this telegram knowing that it condemned Nicholson and his men to death or certain capture.
An incessant artillery bombardment accompanied by relays of dive bombers meant that his positions were reduced to a shambles and Nicholson and his remaining soldiers had no option but to eventually surrender.
It is no exaggeration to say that the safety of the B.E.F. was due in large part to the gallantry and fortitude of Nicholson and his soldiers who held the town for four days against overwhelming odds, fighting to the last and that his leadership and resolution reinforced his troops splendid spirit.
Nicholson and his remaining men were taken prisoner but, unfortunately he died in his POW camp on the 26th June 1943.
Claude Nicholson was born on the 2nd July 1898, the son of a distiller R.F. Nicholson of Woodcott, Hampshire. Educated at Winchester and Sandhurst he was gazetted to the 16th Lancers in 1916 and served in France and Belgium for the remainder of World War One. He then served on Palestine and Egypt and commanded his regiment in India between 1938 and 1939.
He was awarded Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services at Calais in 1940. Nicholson was portrayed by the actor Richard Glover in the 2017 film about Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour. Churchill's telegram to Nicholson features in the film.
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S2 - Sold as a Section 2 Firearm under the 1968 Firearms Act