364 Lance Serjeant (Acting Serjeant) Walter Thomas Holland, 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade
Born in 1884 in Ringshall
Killed in Action 14th March 1915 in France
Walter Thomas Holland was born in Ringshall, the third of the six children of William Alfred Holland and Elizabeth, née Fowler. His father was a Garden Labourer. His older siblings were his brother Jesse, born in 1878 and sister Emily Elizabeth, born in 1881. His younger siblings were his sister Florence Caroline, born 31st March 1888, brother Albert, born in 1892 and sister Nellie, born 22nd October 1894. The family lived at 24 Ringshall, which was numbered 12 Ringshall Road in the 1891 Census.
Walter was educated at Little Gaddesden School but two boys of the same name are shown living two doors apart from each other in Ringshall in the 1891 Census: Walter Thomas Holland, born 1884 and Walter Holland, born 1887. Several entries in the School Log Book could refer to either boy, but on 28th September 1894, ‘the other’ Walter Holland and his brother William left the neighbourhood for Totternhoe. On 22nd February 1895, Walter was awarded a Certificate for having distinguished himself in the Religious Knowledge Examination during the annual Diocesan Inspection. On 5th April 1895 it was recorded that he had passed the 4th Standard and could have a Labour Certificate. That allowed him, aged about 11, to leave school and go to work.
In the 1901 Census, Walter is recorded as a 16 year old Garden Labourer, living at 24 Ringshall with his parents and younger siblings.
The Little Gaddesden Brass Band 5
The Little Gaddesden Brass Band was formed in 1902 and a report and statement of accounts for 1902 – 1903 has survived. To obtain funds, entertainments were performed and donations sought. Each band member paid 3d per week (1¼p today) toward the cost of tuition. The report noted “our balance in hand is very low, but we again rely on our many kind friends to give us their support and stick to our motto: Nil Desperandum”. The report included a photograph on which Walter, aged 18 or 19, is shown 3rd from the right in the middle row.
Others in the Band with links to the Roll of Honour are:
- Back Row, L to R: 1. Archibald Johnson; 2. Thomas Johnson; 3. Frederick Cutler; 5. John Wibden; 6. Edward Hing; 7. Edward Pinnock (father of George Pinnock and Arthur Pinnock).
- Middle Row, L to R: 3. Arthur Johnson; 4. Sam Oakins; 6. Harry Wells (father of William Wells); 8. Herbert Fenn.
- Front Row, L to R: 1. Steve Oakins; 4. William Johnson; 5. Sidney Rogers.
- Under the drum: Hubert Halsey
- Band members absent from the photo included William Fenn and Matthew Munden; the Band’s Secretary was Geoffrey Talbot.
Marriage and Children 6
Walter has not been found in the 1911 Census and had probably emigrated to Canada by then, living in the hamlet of Readlyn, Saskatchewan. He married Ada and they had two children: Thomas William and Violet Irene.
Walter’s Service Number indicates that he had joined the Rifle Brigade in 1904, but he would have been transferred to the Reserve before emigrating to Canada. He enlisted in Hemel Hempstead and his wartime address was Readlyn, Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. It is probable that he was the 30 year old Farmer W. T. Holland listed among the British Army Reservists who arrived at the Port of London on 8th September 1914. They had travelled 3rd Class from Quebec, Canada aboard the Canadian Pacific SS Ruthenia. Walter served overseas in France from 11th December 1914.
Death in France 11
29 year old Acting Serjeant Walter Holland was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on 14th March 1915.
Walter has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France, Panel 44. He is recorded as a Lance Serjeant, which was his paid rank.
His Grave Registration Report, compiled during the 1920s, records him as the “son of William and Elizabeth Holland, of Little Gadsdon, Berkhampstead, Herts; husband of Ada Prince (formerly Holland), of Readlyn, Saskatchewan. Canada”. His parents had remained in Little Gaddesden; by 1911 they lived at No 9 Little Gaddesden, next door to their eldest son Jesse and his family who lived at No. 8.
We will remember them 10
Walter Holland is commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden. He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church, together with his older brother Jesse Holland (6th Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment), who survived the war.
Walter was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
3. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
5. Report and Statement of Accounts of the Little Gaddesden Brass Band 1902 – 1903
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson