Posted: Thu 7th Apr 2016

Aces High’ Jack Celebrates 100 Years /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Apr 7th, 2016

A World War Two Spitfire fighter pilot ace, who went to school with Dylan Thomas, has celebrated his 100th birthday in an Ammanford care home. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

John ‘Jack’ Hamilton Nicholls, DFC, is recorded in the book Aces High, as having recorded a score of five and two-thirds enemy aircraft destroyed and damaged. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Jack, who receives showers of visitors at his Cartref Ael Y Bryn, Penybanc, Ammanford, residential home, spurned an invitation to go to London and celebrate his birthday with the RAF. But he partied and enjoyed receiving a card from the Queen and many more from friends and Freemasonry colleagues. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The unassuming Jack’s Aces High record shows he joined 601 Squadron in the Western Desert in 1942 and is recorded on October 19 as having destroyed a Macchio 202 and 10 days later a Bf 109. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

On November 2he damaged a Macchi 202, destroyed another Bf 109 on the 30th, and probably got another on December and destroyed one more on the 10th. He was promoted to Flying Officer and early in 1943 received a DFC. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He then became a Flight Commander in March, damaging a Macchi 202 on the 5th and sharing a Junkers 88 on the 28th. Next day he damaged a Bf 109 and on April 7 destroyed a Junkers 109. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He was then rested and later in 1943 joined 92 Squadron in Italy as a Flight Commander. On October 10he shared Dornier 217 shot down into the sea off Termoli with four other pilots and on November 28 claimed a Junkers 190 taking his score to five and two thirds. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Jack was brought up in Llanelli on the side of Bigyn Hill before he moved to Rosehill Terrace, Swansea, where he went to school at Swansea Grammar School. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Jack said he had been in school with poet and writer Dylan Thomas, from his home town of Laugharne. Dylan was in the year ahead of him. “His father was my English teacher,” Jack recalled. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

After the war Jack was on the staff of the goods manager’s officer of the Great Western Railway at Burrows Lodge, Swansea, and on retirement went to live at Penyrheol, Croesyceiliog, Carmarthen. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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