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A Soldier and His Pipe.
A Soldier and His Pipe. 

Western Mail, Thursday 7 September 1933, page 2

A Soldier and His Pipe.

He was six feet tall, under 10 stone, and threw a fishing-line shadow. A beaked nose and talkative hands suggested Hebrew lineage, while a forehead extending to the nape of his neck indicated he was on the wrong side of fifty. Such was the top-liner in this episode, who answered to the name of Nugget. A Military Medal, gained at Pozieres, testified that a dinkum soldier is not necessarily of paragon physique nor of comely contour.

On a grey day in late October of 1916, when a remnant of the Eleventh Battalion was bivouacked on the ruins of Fricourt, Nugget and the writer were among a party of six detailed to re-erect, with sandbags and hessian, an officers' latrine at brigade headquarters - a glorified ex-German dugout, elaborately fitted with staircase, carpet, etc. Finishing our job at about noon, we were trudging '"home" in drizzling rain when Nugget discovered he had left his pipe - a coloured, smelly calabash - at the scene of our handiwork, and forthwith retraced his steps, alone, to retrieve it.

We missed our elongated cobber when getting ready to move into the Flers sector that afternoon, and several of our mob went in search of him.

A few battered sandbags were all that was left of the improvised latrine. We found Nugget's body half-buried in a shell-hole, a chain or two-away, with no sign of a wound or a hit. Concussion had sent him on the last, long trail. The pipe was in a tunic pocket, and we buried it with him.

We cursed the war with more than usual vehemence as we meandered through Delville Wood in Cimmerian darkness an hour or two later.

T.H.K. (llth), Victoria Park.

Those in the story:

Nugget = Unidentified

his pipe - a coloured, smelly calabash = The calabash vine can be harvested mature, dried, and used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe used to smoke pipe tobacco. A typical design yielded by this squash is recognized (theatrically) as the pipe of Sherlock Holmes.

Narrator T.H.K. (llth) = Unidentified

Note: There is no record of any deaths from the 11th Battalion in October 1916. There is no mention of this incident in the War Diaries of the 11th Battalion and 3rd Brigade, either in October or November. According to the War Diary of the 11th Battalion, the move to Delville Wood occured around 9 November 1916 and casualties were recorded. In November 1916, 8 men from the 11th Battalion were recorded as dying in service, most being casualties from 9 November 1916. From this group, no one fits the profile of "Nugget". The story is too real to be an invention. Sadly we will never know who Nugget really was and when he died.