Albert Nevitt – Deganwy’s First World War hero

Many who attended Deganwy School in the years either side of the Second World War will fondly remember the headmaster, Mr Albert Nevitt; but how many know of his gallant military service?

Born in the Parish of Llanrhos in 1892, Albert Nevitt was the son of Henry Nevitt, a railway foreman on the London and North West Railways. The 1911 census records Albert, his parents and 8 siblings as living at Stanley Oak Terrace in Llandudno Junction. Two of Albert’s sisters were school teachers while both his brothers worked alongside their father on the railways. A talented footballer, Albert regularly played for his school, Colwyn Bay Higher Grade School, captaining the side on many occasions. After attending the University of North Wales at Bangor, Albert joined his sisters in the teaching profession and before enlisting in the army had held posts at Denbigh Boys School and Talybont School.

Albert volunteered for the army shortly after the outbreak of the First World War and joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. His potential was quickly realised and was soon commissioned as an officer and posted to the Western Front.

In March 1916, while serving with the 12th Battalion of the Royal Welsh, Second Lieutenant Nevitt was recommended for the Military Cross for leading a bombing raid in which he was seriously wounded. The citation reads “For conspicuous gallantry. When leading a bombing attack up a communication trench all but one of his men became casualties, but with this man he went on to within 10 yards of the enemy, when he was himself wounded. He had previously shown great daring on reconnaissance.” Nevitt was treated in hospital in London for his injuries that he sustained in the attack.

After being discharged from hospital, Albert Nevitt took up a position with the 62nd Reserve Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Kinmel Camp near Bodelwyddan. Here he was appointed as Brigade Bombing Officer and awarded the temporary rank of Captain, tasked with training the new recruits. Just six months after being awarded the Military Cross, Nevitt was awarded the Albert Medal after three incidents involving live grenades in just one month.

On the 4th September 1916 Albert Nevitt was in a practice trench at the neighbouring Bodelwyddan Park with another officer and two men instructing them on the use of grenades. One of the men threw a grenade which hit the parapet and fell back into the trench, where it was deeply embedded in mud and water. Nevitt groped for the ordnance and at first failed to find it but made a second and successful attempt, seizing the grenade and threw it over the parapet, where it at once exploded.

On September 24th 1916, bombing instruction was taking place under the command of Captain Nevitt. Another officer and three men were present in the trench when a grenade fell back from the parapet into the dugout. The men panicked and rushed for the entrance, nearly knocking Nevitt off his feet. In the confusion, Nevitt lost sight of the grenade, but quickly found it, and threw it clear of the trench, where it at once exploded. Only one of the men had managed to escape the trench when Nevitt threw the grenade clear and thus saving the lives of three men as well as his own.

Ten days later, on the 4th October, Albert Nevitt stayed to assist an injured sergeant after an explosion in a bomb store at Kinmel Camp even though there was a grave danger of further explosions.

In March 1918, Nevitt transferred from the Royal Welsh to the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and the following year was Mentioned in Dispatches for meritorious action. He relinquished his commission in April 1920 and left the army, continuing his teaching career.

For 33 years, he was headmaster of Deganwy School and a pillar of the local community. During the Second World War, he was commissioned in the RAF. Albert Nevitt died on 4th August 1966 aged 73 years and his wife, Nora, less than a month later, on 2nd September 1966.


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