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This article was researched and written by Steve Wilson.

Hedley Holmes was born in 1894 at Walkden, Manchester the son of Peter and Mary Alice Holmes.

He was the third child of four children with an elder sister Frances (1888), an elder brother Fred (1889) and a younger brother Peter Holmes (1897).

His father Peter was employed in the mining industry as a hewer and later shown as being a pick sharpener.

In 1911 the family resided at 218 Manchester Road, Walkden.

With the outbreak of the Great War he volunteered for the Army and on 3rd September 1914 at Farnworth, at the age of 20, he joined the 8th Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment as Private 15779.

He gave his civilian occupation as being a drapery assistant. Later information in his service record shows he was employed by the Walkden Cooperative Society, 2, Bridgewater Road, Walkden for 6 years before military service.

Holmes progressed through the ranks and at the date of landing in France on the 24th September 1915 he had attained the rank of Corporal. Promotion to Sergeant took place on the 7th May 1916.

The War Diary describes the following:

31st July 1916: On the night of 31 July CAPT B.W .FISH and Sgt H. Holmes made a very good reconnaissance starting out from our right Coy at 10.30pm. The patrol remained out altogether until 1.50am making three separate journeys. The ground between various parts held by us was thoroughly reconnoitred, notably between LANCASHIRE POST and CROW’s NEST POST and between PICTUREDROME POST and the enemy’s first line of wire. The GOC Division expressed himself very pleased with the way in which this patrol was carried out. …

The War Diary includes the report compiled by Captain Fish along with a sketch plan.

(The 8th Battalion were in reserve on the 1st July 1916 on the Somme and subsequently were involved in attacks around Ovillers on the 9th/10th July. On the 31st July the Battalion were in trenches north of the River Ancre.)

The War Diary dated the 31 August 1916, states that CAPT FISH received the Military Cross for this action and Sgt 15779 Holmes the Military Medal.

Fish’s Military Cross was gazetted on 22nd September 1916. The citation, somewhat bland compared with the detail contained in the official documentation in connection with the events, reads:

‘For conspicuous gallantry. With a serjeant he carried out three dangerous and successful reconnaissance’s, returning with most useful information.’

Following the reconnaissance unsuccessful attempts were made to establish an advanced position as identified on the night of the 1/2nd August.

A further attempt was made on the following evening of the 3rd but it was found the location was occupied by the Germans. On sighting the advancing patrol they withdrew and the area was then hit with three minenwerfer bombs.

Holmes service record is unclear but it appears that following this he returned to the UK and on 5th September 1916 arrived at the Norfolk War Hospital at Thorpe, Norwich.

On the 11th December 1916 Holmes was at the Knowsley Park depot. This was a command depot for the rehabilitative training of soldiers too fit for convalescent camp, but not yet fit enough to be returned to unit.

Details of his injury are not given but in correspondence on file he refers to a wound scar on the left side of his back.

Holmes was transferred to the Reserves on the 28th June 1917 and discharged from the Army on the 31st July 1917 due to wounds received.

In addition to his Military Medal, Holmes received the 1914-15 Star (Corporal) and the British War Medal and Victory Medal (Sergeant). He was also awarded the Silver War Badge.

On September 4th, 1920 at Bury Parish Church, Holmes married Alice Massey the daughter of John Massey (deceased) a collier.

Hedley Holmes died on 25th October 1965 his address given as 55 Westminster Road, Walkden. He was 71 years old.

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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
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