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Albert Holland was born at 35 Deepdale Mill Street in Preston in late 1893, his christening took place at St. Jude`s Church in the town on the 31st December of that year. His parents, David and Ellen Holland (nee Gibson) had married in the parish church of St. John in Preston on the 3rd June 1876 and they went on to have eight children, seven of whom survived, the others being; John (1877), William (1879), Florence (1882), Frederick (1884), twins Annie and Tom (1888) and Ernest (1891).

In 1901 Albert and his family lived at 22 Andrew Street but sadly, the following year, 14 year old Tom, one of Albert`s siblings died. By 1911 the Holland family had relocated to 53 Miller Road where Albert`s father was a mill mechanic. The Census of that year describes Albert`s employment as an apprentice reed maker, his two elder sisters, Florence and Annie were both weavers. The family also had a boarder named Nancy Worden who was a cotton weaver.

Later newspaper information (Preston Herald), states that Albert enlisted in 1916 and that at the time he was a fireman working at the Tennyson Road Mill in Ribbleton. Again, the same source notes that Albert embarked for France towards the end of 1916 or early 1917, his service number being 25692. Unfortunately his service papers no longer exist but we know that at some point after arriving in France he was posted to the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment who at the time came under the Command of 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division.

On the 9th April 1918 the German Army launched the second phase of its Spring Offensive in what would become known as the Battle of the Lys.

On the 16th of the month the 1st Battalion relieved the 2/5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers and went into the front line near La Bassee Canal, they were in position by 3.55pm. The following day was generally quiet.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary – 18th April 1918

“At 4.15am, the enemy commenced to bombard the whole of the Divisional front. The barrage became intense and at 8.10 the enemy attacked from the north, filtering into our trenches under cover of the high ground at Givenchy. He succeeded in reaching and occupying the main line of resistance before counter measures could be taken. Vigorous counter attacks by “C” and “D” Companies eventually succeeded in ejecting the enemy from our main line and by 11am he was only holding a few isolated posts in our outpost line”.

On the following day there was a certain amount of sniping from the Germans who were now holding the shell craters which had formed the outpost line. The 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment later successfully attacked the remaining enemy and the Germans retreated back to their own lines.

A period of quiet then followed with the men concentrating on repairing and improving the defences until finally being relieved from the front line on the 23rd/24th April.

The Battalion War Diary does not give a daily account of the casualties for this particular period but does record losses of 46 men killed, 105 wounded and 189 missing. Sadly, Albert died of wounds received in action the day before the Battalion was relieved, date of death recorded as 22nd April 1918.

After his family had been informed the news of his death was published in the Preston Guardian;

(*Note; the newspaper article states Albert`s date of death as being 21st April. The Register of Soldier`s Effects and his CWGC record both state his date of death as 22nd April 1918).

After the war Albert`s family would have taken receipt of his British War and Victory Medals and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Albert was buried with honour in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery.

Janet Davis
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