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William Holland was born in 1888 and was baptised on 12th September 1888 at Holy Trinity Church in Bolton. He was the youngest son of Thomas Henry Holland (b. 1849 Bolton) and Elizabeth Holland (nee Batty). The family lived at 23 Kestor Street, Mill Hill, Bolton at this time and his father was employed as a joiner and worked in the nearby bleachworks. William had five siblings:

  • James Holland (b. 1876)
  • Leah Holland b.1879)
  • John Henry Holland (b. 1881)
  • Walter Holland (b. 1887)
  • Adelaide Holland (b. 1892)

In 1891 when William was 2 years old the family lived at 28 Lower Terrace, Mill Hill, Bolton; but by 1901 the family had moved to 26 Lower Terrace, Mill Hill, Little Bolton. Ten years later when the census was taken in 1911 William was 22 years old and was working as a piecer in a cotton mill. The family were now living at 9 Windley Street, Mill Hill, Bolton.

William attested into the Territorial Force at Bolton on 7th November 1914 and joined the 5th (Home Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 3317 (this number would change to 241300 when the TF were renumbered in 1917).

At the time of his enlistment William was 26 years and 4 months old and was living back on Lower Terrace (number 36), Mill Hill, Bolton with his father. The medical officer described him as standing 5ft 4in tall with a 35in chest and of good physical development. He had no previous military experience and was initially posted into the 2nd/5th Battalion.

In April 1915 (shortly after the death of his mother) William signed the declaration that would enable him, as a Territorial soldier, to serve overseas. He sailed to France from Southampton on 26th June 1915 but didn’t immediately join the 1/5th Battalion in the field, spending his first three months overseas attached to No. 4 Entrenching Battalion. On 22nd October 1915 he eventually joined his Bolton pals and was posted into D Company.

He was awarded a good conduct badge and appointed substantive Lance Corporal in March 1917. On 30th July 1917 he was wounded at duty and upon his recovery was granted leave from 25th August to 4th September 1917. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field which was published in the London Gazette of 28th September 1917 and the Edinburgh Gazette of 1st October. Awards in this issue of the gazette relate to events at Ypres from 17th July to 4th August 1917.holland mm

William Holland was promoted to Corporal in October 1917, vice Corporal Knowles who would be returning to England.

Private William Holland was reported ‘missing in action’ after the attack at Cambrai on 30th November 1917. With no news coming to light about the fate of William it was later accepted he had died on or since that date.

Cambrai, 30th November 1917 – 8:30hrs
That morning a heavy fog hung in the air over the 55th Divisional front line, a line that had been heavily bombarded for the past 90 minutes.

The enemy penetrated the 1/5th sector at Holts Bank, having advanced at a staggering rate, with overwhelming numbers into Pigeon Quarry, they had succeeded in seriously outflanking our men.

Massively outnumbered, and with the help of the Liverpool Scottish, the Loyals gallantly stood firm and inflicted serious damage on the German soldiers, succeeding in holding Adelphi and Gloucester Roads until such time as they became so few in number they were forced to withdraw.

Prior to the withdrawal, an element of Loyal North Lancs had already been cut off from the rest of the Battalion and were completely surrounded at Limerick Post. Somehow they succeeded in defending their encircled position, managing to reach their own line by 5:00hrs the next morning.
In this action the Battalion paid a heavy price, 2 men had been killed, 3 Officers and 27 other ranks wounded, 2 Officers were wounded and missing, while 16 Officers and 384 non-commissioned Officers and men were missing.

William’s body was not recovered from the battlefield and as such he is remembered on the Cambrai Memorial and none of his effects were returned to his family. His father later took receipt of his late-son’s Military Medal (1919), 1914/15 Star (1920), British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal and upon signing for the latter two medals in 1922 he added his thanks (pic below). He would also receive a memorial plaque and scroll bearing William’s name and in recognition of his sacrifice. Thomas Henry Holland died in 1923.

william holland slip

William Holland M.M. is also recorded on the War Memorial at Adlington, Lancashire although his connection to Adlington is unclear.

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 241300
Date of Death: 30/11/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/5th Bn
Awards: M.M.

Paul McCormick
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