In memory of John Nicholas Lewis

Photo of John Nicholas LewisJohn Nicholas Lewis was born in Islington, London, where his father Jonah was a draper. His father had died by December 1915. His widowed mother Mary lived at Ffynonau, Llanwrtyd Wells. His aunt also lived in Llanwrtyd, and one of his uncles, a Dr Morgan, lived in Builth Wells.

He was educated at Llanwrtyd Council School and Llandovery College before winning a scholarship to study for five years at St John’s College, Oxford. He enlisted in the Army shortly before he was due to begin the final year of his course.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Welsh Regiment on 14 August 1914, and was promoted to lieutenant in early 1915. Later that year, he sailed to Gallipoli to take part in the ill-fated attempt to invade Turkey. On 8 August he led a platoon of bomb throwers in a charge up a slope known as “Chocolate Hill”. Having reached the top, the attacking soldiers from Britain and New Zealand continued down the other side, into a hail of machine gun fire.

Lieut Lewis, aged 22, was hit in the arms, chest and leg. As his servant bandaged him, he asked for a light for his cigarette and handed over his wristwatch. Asked if anything else could be done for him, he was said to have replied: “No thank you. I am done for. But go on, my lads, do your duty, for there is One above who will take care of us.”

A party of stretcher bearers was sent out two days later but was unable to find his body, and assumed he had been buried by Turkish soldiers. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial and on a plaque in St James’ Church, Llanwrtyd, which was unveiled in 1916 by the Bishop of Swansea.

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