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William Holder

William HolderJunior Reserve Attendant William Holder, M9887, Royal Navy Auxiliary Sick Berth Reserve, HMS 'Pembroke'

William Holder was born in Ossett on the 13th May 1874, the son of Thomas Holder and his wife, Eliza (nee Kemp), who married in the Wakefield area in 1864. Thomas Holder died in Summer 1880, aged 42 years, and in 1881 his widow, Eliza was living on Gunson’s Row, Ossett with her seven children, aged between two years and sixteen years of age. Only one of the children was working.

Eliza Holder died in late 1882, aged 44 years and in 1891 five of Thomas and Eliza Holder's children, including William, were living together at Town End, Ossett. The household is headed by William’s 23 year-old unmarried sister, Clara Holder. Four of the five children were working and the youngest was still at school. William was working as a mill hand in a cloth mill.

William Holder of Dale Street, Ossett married Lydia Clayton of Wycliffe Street, Ossett at Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 23rd July 1898 and the couple had three children from their marriage, but one died before April 1911. At this time William was now working as a coal miner and was living at Wyecliffe Street, Ossett with his wife Lydia and three children, one of whom was adopted.

William Holder was 5’ 7” with a chest measurement of 35½”, dark hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion at the time of his first Royal Navy engagement on the 19th August 1914 when he was 40 years of age. His first and last posting was HMS 'Pembroke' which he first joined on 19th August 1914. He served there until 9th November 1916 when he joined HMS 'Thalia' for 11 months until the 30th September 1917 at which point he rejoined HMS Pembroke. His character was marked 'very good' and his ability 'satisfactory' during the whole of his three years and four months service. The record shows that he was awarded one badge on the 18th August 1917. William Holder died of pneumonia at HMS Pembroke on the 17th December 1917 aged 43. He was posthumously awarded the British Medal for which he qualified by leaving 'his native shore'. He was not awarded the Victory or the 1914 Medal, indicating that he had not served in a theatre of war during the period of his service in the Royal Navy.

HMS "Pembroke" was a training establishment during WW1 and was the Royal Navy Barracks at Chatham in Kent. Building started in 1897 and was completed towards the end of 1902. On the night of the 3rd Sept 1917, four German Gotha bombers crossed the channel from Gontrode in Belgium and bombed first Thanet, then the dockyard at Sheerness and finally Chatham, where the he glassed-roofed drill shed was used to house men during WW1 and was hit by a bomb, causing many casualties. The local paper reported the death of 136 naval ratings, mostly from glass splinters, with many more injured.

The "Ossett Observer" 1 had this obituary for William Holder:

"Ossett Ambulance Man Dies On Hospital Duty - The death occurred at the Royal Naval Hospital, Southend-on-Sea, on Monday, of Sick-Berth Attendant, William Holder, whose wife and family reside at Ryecroft-street, Ossett. As an ambulance volunteer, the deceased, who was 43 years of age, had been engaged on hospital duty from the early days of the war."

Junior Reserve Attendant William Holder, aged 43 years, the husband of Lydia Holder, of 39, Springstone Avenue, Ossett, died on the 17th December 1917. He is buried at grave reference Lot. H. South Corner 2. 1. at the Ossett (Holy Trinity) Churchyard,2 Church Street, Ossett.


1. "Ossett Observer", 29th December 1917

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site