I'm a big Tom Hiddleston fan, let's face it who isn't? I also love Michael Morpurgo so obviously I love the film. Captain Nicholls is so nice and deserves a happy ending. Probably not historically accurate or 100% true to the book but it's along those lines. I own nothing.
When he left Cambridge he wanted to become a lawyer and help bring more justice to the world, even if it was only in a small way. Unfortunately a stupid family tradition meant that he had to become an officer in the army. He had somehow managed to convince his Papa that he would start a humble private like everyone else that enlisted. As expected His lordship lieutenant general James Tarquin Oswald Nicholls did not understand, men of there station paid for commission and that was a fact.
The only good thing that came out of this bargain was that his farther had insisted on him joining the same cavalry regiment as his ancestors, and this suited James Jr fine. He loved horses and in training they had all been given the 'nasty' jobs such as mucking out the horses and polishing all the higher officers' brass. However while most of his comrades complained seemingly endlessly about these tasks, he positively enjoyed them, the quality time with the horses and the better understanding of the menial day to day tasks forced upon the domestic staff at home where great eye openers for him. Whenever he had a break from such tasks, running exercises, inspections and such like (which was not very often) he would concoct great fairy tales of letters home. To his Papa he would write reams of the right honourable 'gentlemen' in which he had the good fortune to share barracks with and of his eagerness to show anyone with the audacity to oppose the British army what was coming to them. To his Mama and his sister dearest Elizabeth he would tell of the easiness of his work, the goodness of his food and the comfort of his barracks. All these sentiments would occasionally be repeated to old school friends should they enquire after his health. He relayed some of the truths to one of his closest friends from boyhood and the object of his sister's affection, Jamie Stewart, who happened to also be in the cavalry. It was an unspoken agreement between Jamie and himself that they were not to address each other as dear friends unless alone as Jamie had gotten his commission as officer cadet and James did not want the other privets learning of his true privileged background, should they look less kindly upon him.
There was only one person he told his full predicament to, the only person he had ever really revealed the extent of his feelings and political views to, Tom. Tom was his best friend, and the family chauffeur. He had no idea when this unlikely bond came into being but he did know that Tom was the only person he felt could truly listen to and value his opinions, and he hoped the feeling was mutual. They were a similar age, both loved to read, both loved politics, both loved history, had younger sisters of a similar age and both adored horses. Tom, whose surname had long since been dropped from their conversations, was Irish and though he tried hard to be both brutally honest and tactful with the son of his employer could not disguise the venom in his voice when he spoke of the British forces and how they imprisoned his beloved homeland. That's why when James had revealed his plan to join the cavalry, they had stopped talking. This didn't, however, prevent James from writing to him in hope that they could renew their friendship. Sure enough the replies he got where full of concern and well wishes along with the odd gripe at class or political differences that had been common to them before the falling out.
But it was now, writing this letter, that he was unsure if their seemingly unbreakable bond could in fact be broken. He wrote and rewrote the letter several times, but in the end settled on something close to what he had in the beginning. After his enthusiasm to work had been realised he had soon risen the ranks to become Corporal Nicholls and was now ready to be sent to his first real place of conflict. He had hoped his time in the army would be like his father's, largely uneventful, though he was told many stories of the Boer wars and such he wondered how much action he had actually seen. Alas this was not to be, he was to be shipped off to Ireland where he was to enforce a regime in the name of king and country in a country that did not want them there, and in his opinion had good reason not to want them. He was in charge of a small group of men, men not his 'section' of four soldiers, men. Too often he had heard army personnel be referred to as just a number, as was the 'collateral damage' in the debriefing. And as he was watching the transporters being loaded with guns, he couldn't help but wonder did Tom know any of the 'collateral damage'? He knew how opinionated Tom was and would hedge a bet most of his friends and family where as well. He knew his older sister had been shot as a child, on Christmas no less. The whole family had been there, his parent, his younger sister, his three brothers, his four cousins, grandparents, aunties, uncles and he all witnessed the bullet shatter the window and pierce her fragile skull. The officer responsible wasn't even sentenced as the family couldn't afford a lawyer and the judge had quite obviously been bribed, dubbing it an 'accident' as the officer had been extremely drunk and had even had the good grace to offer to have the window replaced, which was obviously turned down. A window, the price of a child's life. It was injustices like that that made him even more determined to become a lawyer after his obligatory bout in the army. It had obviously had an effect on Tom, he had only ever mentioned it once as explanation why a young, usually outgoing, catholic refused to celebrate Christmas in any way. And even then he seemed unwilling to reveal all the details.