Nelson Bollington's parents were Sarah Bollington and William Martin who married in 1913 after having at least nine children. The children were also known as Martin, their father’s name. Nelson Martin was born at Heage and later lived at Crich. He attended the first meeting of Crich volunteers in Oct 1914 though, with John Berresford, both aged fifteen, failed to enlist with the Foresters. They did enlist in the Seaforth Highlanders, aged only sixteen. In late 1918, Nelson was wounded in the knee, in France. After demob, he relocated to Langwith Junction and worked on the railways. He married Annie C Kettle in 1926 December qtr (Mansfield reg district).
Nelson would have been just fifteen when posing for the photograph below.
The Alderwasley School Records show Nelson Bollington Martin, father William, living at Longway Bank. Nelson was born 21/9/1899 and entered school 1910 left 1913.
Medal Index Roll
He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
12 October 1918
From a base hospital in France, Private Nelson Martin has written to his father Mr William Martin, Sun Lane, Crich, informing him that he had been wounded in the knee. His brother Cpl Alfred Martin, has just recovered from illness after a spell in hospital.
Nelson Bollington is also remembered on the Alderwasley Roll of Honour in the Church.
Crich Front Lines Memorial Event
The following dialogue by Martyn Offord is of an imaginary conversation between Nelson Bollington and his friend John Berresford was enacted at the November 2014 Crich Front Lines memorial event in the Glebe Field Centre in honour of the two under-age friends.
Two lively lads of Crich
JB/NB Two lively lads of Crich are we. We go together like:
JB and Hill
JB and Carr
JB and Bridge
JB and Keen
JB and Cutter
NB (Looks enquringly at JB) What!?
JB and Standwell
JB/NB Two lively lads of fifteen. Great fun we had around Crich in those sunny days before the War.
JB Fishing in the Derwent in the early dawn
NB Trapping rabbits in Crich Chase
JB Watching the girls come to market (both nudge and snigger)
NB Watching lovers in the hay stacks (both nudge and snigger)
JB Singing along with Daddy Haywood from Top School
NB Sandow’s Circus
JB Football in the winter
NB Cricket in the summer
JB Shooting crows in the Autumn
JB/NB Yea – shooting (both go off into pretend shooting games)
JB/NB But there was work too – hard work – thirsty work – dusty work - a life time of work –
JB In the quarry – hard and dusty
NB In the pit – hard and dark
JB In the factory – hard and noisy
NB On the railway – hard and boring
JB On the land – hard and muddy
JB/NB Then that summer of 1914 someone in the village said there was a war on and they were recruiting lads like us. Hurray – shooting Huns not crows – travel, new uniform, lots of fun and home by Christmas. (Chant) no more boring, no more noisy, no more digging in the mud (Pause – look at each other – their gazes drop and they sigh)
NB Trouble was you had to be 18 – but I squared up, tried to shave, sounded all husky and gave it a go – there I am in a photograph with the Crich lads in The Sherwood Foresters December 1914. But of course all the other lads knew I was just 15 and someone must have said. So I was told to go home. It was dead embarrassing.
JB Nelson was really upset. I remember. We were leaning over the bridge at Whatstandwell dropping stones in the water. Some of the lads had just come off shift and were in the pub – not so many as there used to be though. That’s when we decided to have another go – this time where no one would know us.
JB/NB Yes we went together like
NB and Dutchman
NB and Arms
NB and Swan
NB and Sun
JB/NB Pals we were, and chums, and mates and Comrades in Arms. Yes we joined the Seaforth Highlanders. We became Scotties – do bagpipe imitations and highland flings etc.
9th Scottish Division, 7th Battalion.
And they didn’t know our ages
Always together we were – lively lads of Crich in a Scottish regiment!
NB (mock Scottish accent saluting) Bollington, Nelson, Private S/25227 reporting Sir
JB (as above) Berresford, John Stanley Harrison, Private S/25228 reporting Sir
NB We didn’t really know what we were here for. We’d never heard of Wipers though they said that’s where we were. We hadn’t really heard of Belgium or ‘Plug Street’ but we were two lively Crich lads together. Even when we got transferred and got new regimental numbers:
NB Bollington, Nelson Private S/22354 reporting Sir
JB Berresford, John Stanley Harrison, Private S/22355 reporting Sir
JB/NB We don’t really know what battles we were in – just routine shells falling and shrapnel and flares and snipers and mud and mud and mud. But we stayed two lively Crich lads together like
NB and Foot
NB and wire
NB and Bang
NB and gun
JB/NB and Fritz and Hun and cold and wet and fear and sweat and rats and mice and mould and lice and saps and mud and screams and blood.
NB But we were always together – then – we weren’t. I don’t know what happened – there wasn’t a real battle, just one of those routine, everyday things. It might have been a shell, or a sniper in no-man’s land, an accident with a gun, sucked down into a crater, trampled in the mud, blown to bits – no known grave – not a cap or a buckle a boot or a knapsack. Just his name.
JB On the Ploegsteert Memorial with 11,000 others. Panel 9. Just my name – spelt wrong.