The published Naval General Service Medal rolls confirm William Nicholls as an Ordinary Seaman aboard the Centaur for the action of 26.8.1808, one of just 41 recipients of this clasp recorded on the Admiralty roll. One man, however, with the same names, was entitled to a single 'Syria' clasp, and a similar award is noted as being held in the Douglas-Morris Collection at the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth.
'On the outbreak of War with Russia, Sir James Saumarez was sent with a Fleet of 11 Sail-of-the-Line to the Baltic, but no general engagement took place. The Admiral sent his Second-in-Command, Sir Samuel Hood, with his own ship, the Centaur, and the Implacable, 74, Captain Byam Martin, to join the Swedish Squadron, and the only fighting that took place was between these ships and the Russian Fleet. The Implacable engaged the Sewolod, 74, and after a smart action, compelled her to strike, but was unable to take possession, as the Russian Admiral, Hanikoff, bore down to the rescue. The enemy proceeded to the harbour of Rogerswick, and the Sewolod taking the ground, Sir Samuel Hood ran on board her, and lashing the bowsprit of the Russian 74 to his mizen rigging, compelled her a second time to strike her Colours. Other Russian ships now advanced, and the Prize being immovable, with her hold half-full of water, she was set on fire and destroyed, after all the prisoners and wounded had been removed. The total number of casualties in the Implacable amounted to six killed and 26 wounded; in the Centaur, three killed and 27 wounded; while the Sewolod had 43 and 80 wounded in her first action, and after having received reinforcement of 100 men, lost 180 more in the engagement with the Centaur' (Great Battles of the British Navy, by Lieutenant C.R. Low, R.N., refers).