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Charles Holdway was born in 1878 in the town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. His father Charles Albert Holdway and mother Alice Mary Burrows both came from Somerset and they married on the 25th September 1867 in the Parish Church of St. James in Bath. They went on to have at least another six surviving children; Annie Florence (1871), Lily Rose (1875), Alice May (1879), Herbert Harold (1881), Amy Gertrude (1883) and Leonard Albert (1890).

After his sister Annie was born Charles` parents then moved to Nottinghamshire where his sister Lily Rose was born before moving on again to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, probably following his father’s trade as a carpenter/wheelwright. When the 1881 Census was recorded Charles was living in Sydney Street, Melton Mowbray together with his parents and two of his sisters, Annie and Alice May. His sister Lily Rose had stayed behind in Nottinghamshire living with her grandparents Silas and Ann Applegate.

By the 1891 census the family had moved to Lancashire and they were living at 83 Waterloo Terrace in Ashton on Ribble, Preston. Charles` mother Alice was now listed as being the head of the household, husband Charles Albert was working and lodging in Salford at the time. Sixteen year old Lily Rose had also re-joined the family in Preston and she was employed as a cotton binder while thirteen year old Charles was a warehouse boy.

In the 1901 census the family are still living at the same address and Charles` father is again working and lodging away in Heysham. Young Charles is not at home either, he was possibly in the army as his LNLR Attestation indicates he spent time in the 2nd Corp of the Glamorgan Artillery Volunteers, (a Yeomanry regiment) and detailed records of this regiment are not available.

On the 13th November 1902 Charles married Mary Hannah Proctor in Holy Trinity Church in Skipton, North Yorkshire and they went on to have two children, Ernest in 1903 and Florence in 1904. By the time of the 1911 Census Charles had moved his family back to Preston to live at 26 Hull Street just off Watery Lane near the docks and also local to his work at Dick Kerr’s & Co. on Strand Road.

Shortly after the start of WW1 Charles was transferred from the army reserve list and attested into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 12th of September 1914, given the number 15618 and assigned to the 9th (Service) Battalion. He was aged 34 years and 6 months.

The Battalion was under the command of 74th Brigade in the 25th Division. They moved to Christchurch in December 1914 and then to Southbourne in January 1915. In May 1915 they moved to Romsey then on to Aldershot.  They then embarked from Folkestone, landing at Boulogne in France on the 26th of September 1915. After moving on to Nieppe they were finally billeted alongside the 8TH battalion of the LNL Regiment in the town of Strazeele on the 28th of September 1915.

Between October and November 1915 the battalion were moving along the Western front and by December 1915 were at Pont de Nieppe, staying there until the end of January 1916. During this period they had been operating alongside the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd Irish Rifles and the 13th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment.

The 9th Battalion were taken out of line for the month of February 1916 and billeted at Le Creche , and by March 1916 had been moved to a new billet area of Neuf Berquin.

Up to now the 25th Division casualties had remained relatively light, but that was about to change over the coming months. On the 1ST of May 1916 the Brigade was tasked with the defence of Vimy Ridge and casualties began to rise, the 9th Battalion losing 5 men killed in action on the 9TH of May, 31 men died on the 11th and 1 man on the 12th of May.

Below is an extract from the HQ war diaries for the month of May 1916. On the 12th of May there was only one other rank killed in action for the 9th Battalion and as Charles died on this date, it is highly likely that he was the man recorded as being killed in action.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

After his family had been notified of his death, the following announcement appeared in the local paper;holdway

Charles was buried in the Ecoivres Military Cemetery at Mont-St Eloi in the Pas de Calais, Grave Ref. I.K.8 and Headstone number 241.

Mary Holdway received her husband`s effects on the 24th July 1916 which included his ID disc and wallet, 7 letters, a belt, 2 knives, a tobacco pouch and a book.

After the war she also received his 14/15 Star, Victory medal and British War Medal.

Mary also received a war widow’s pension of 17 shillings and sixpence to support her and their two children with effect from 27/11/16.

Charles is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 15618
Date of Death: 12/05/1916
Age: 42
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.
Cemetery: ECOIVRES MILITARY CEMETERY, MONT-ST. ELOI

Ron Crowe

Ron Crowe

Ron has had an interest in WW1 for most of his adult life, reading many books and accounts of the war. He has visited most of the western front on several occasions and visited the various museums, including the Verdun battlefield. He volunteered for the St Marys project at MoL, and having enjoyed the experience felt he would like to do more. These lost stories of old soldiers needs to be brought back to life both for relatives to see what their great grandfathers did, and the modern young generation to see the sacrifices made by them for them
Ron Crowe

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