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Sunday, January 12, 2014



The Holt Family name is synonymous but not exclusive to the weaving industry in the Midland district of England. Specifically the family "Holt" can be traced back to 1626 when Charles Holt of Balderstone Hall, Rochdale was mentioned as a freeholder farmer and weaver farming thirty acres around the Hall. The Holt Family remain known in Rochdale to this day.
Alice Holt, born 1877, Rochdale, Lancashire, England
On March 25, 1869 James Holt, 23, born about 1846 whose father was John, a cotton carder living on Vicar's Move, married Alice Holt, 18, whose father was John, a ginger beer manufacturer living on Stoney Field in St. Chad's Parish Church, Rochdale. Jame's occupation was listed as a "woolen slubber". Sometime after their marriage and the English Census in 1871 they emigrated to Canada with young daughter, Alice, where they settled in Thorold, Ontario. Here James found employment with Robert MacPherson and his bustling Thorold Woolen & Cotton Mfg.Co. The couple had two more children, William Edmund (b.1884) and Charles Fenton (b.November 23,1885). Young Alice died December 23,1876 at the age of 10 being buried in Lakeview Cemetery. Thorold after a service at the family's home on Pine Street. Cause of death at this point remains unknown as is the actual burial site.Shortly afterwards the family apparently returned to England where James died in 1897.

The Thorold Woolen Cotton Mfg. Co.

Charles Holt can be found in both the 1901 and 1911 English Censuses as living with his mother in Rochdale, being single and employed as a "cotton mule piecer". The family was living in the same Rochdale neighbourhood as their original 1600-era ancestors. With the start of the Great War, Charles attested into Kitchener's Regular Army, Cavalry of the Line in Rochdale September 5, 1914. At that time he gave his birthplace as Toronto, Canada. After training, Private Charles Holts was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). Home address was given as 65 Broad Lane, Rochdale with his next of kin his mother. Sent to the battlefield June 1915 with the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Buffs, Charles was wounded and suffered shell shock April 4, 1916. Returning to his unit, he was given 10 days leave in England December 1916. Other than his promotion to Lance Corporal there is no major notations on his service record until July 12, 1917 when the notes read "Killed In Action".

Lance Corporal Charles Fenton Holt
With the assistance of battle diaries and the Regimental History, we learn the following details of the fateful day in question:

"On the 1st July the 6th moved from Arras to the Wancourt Line, on on that date it mustered 33 officers but only 483 other ranks. While in this sector it was sometimes in front, sometimes in support and sometimes further back.

Amongst the various excavations on this region is what is known as "The Long Trench" which, commencing about 1,200 yards south of Keeling Copse, runs southward and is continued in that direction by Tool Trench. In this long work was the 6th Battalion on the 10th July, when it received orders to raid the enemy's shell holes east of Tool Trench at 7:30 a.m. the next day. The enemy, however, had made his own plans and, taking the initiative himself, attacked at 5:00 a.m. after an exceptionally heavy bombardment of guns of all sorts and sizes, smoke and liquid fire being also used. This heavy rain of projectiles was directed not only on Long and Tool Trench's, but also on the supports. The infantry attack was directed mainly on Long Trench, and the Germans managed to penetrate at one point after feinting or making a holding attack along the whole front of it. Having effected his penetration he rapidly deployed and occupied shell holes in our rear or on our side. 2nd Lieut. Stevens, who was holding a post nearby, at once realized the situation and organized and carried out a counter-attack along Long Trench, and almost at the same time L/Cpl Edgington and two men, who were all on duty with the 37th Brigade Sniping Company, seeing that the attack was serious, at once dashed up to ascertain the true situation. These three went up Long Trench for three or four hundred yards till they reached the point where the breakthrough occurred. Here, of course, they came across a lot of Germans who hurled bombs at them. The corporal, however, was a good and resolute Buff soldier, and he, potting one of his own men in an advantageous position in the trench, with the other commenced to erect a block or stop in the work.He was soon joined by 2nd Lieut.Stevens and another  man, and between them they consolidated the block and opened fire at close range on a number of the enemy. About two hours and a half later on, the Buffs tried a counter-attack which was duly preceded by artillery preparation, but it failed owing to the heavy machine-gun fire it was subjected to. The enemy's aeroplanes were very noticeable during this affair, flying low over our lines all day, particularly during the attack. 2nd Lieut Gunther was killed, as were 9 men; another officer and 26 men were wounded, and there were 30 missing. Long Trench was recovered a week later the the 35th Bridge and the Royal West Kent Regiment."

 Buersil & Balderstone War Memorial, Rochdale, England
A British War Medal, 1914-15 Star and a Victory Medal were are sent to the next of kin, with the Victory medal following the other two, several years later (1921) presumably as his qualification was being assessed. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists the death of L/Cpl Charles Fenton Holt occurring July 12, 1917. However given that the Battalion was in reserve that day, his death must have occurred July 10, 1917. He has no known grave and therefore is perpetuated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. The Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial database website includes his information despite the fact he did not fight in Canadian forces. His name is inscribed as well on the Buersil and Balderstone War Memorial. There is also a beautiful war memorial in Thorold however at this time I am unsure if L/Cpl Holt's name is on it. It should be as he was born in the town!

Special thanks to Ray & Melanie Holt, Rochdale, England and to British War Medals Forum members "lovey" Jamie & "Steffan" Stefan for photos and information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not English any mistakes sorry.

Many War accounts, personal letters, diaries, journals, pictures ect of the ones who served in CEF in the First World War have been lost or discarded as rubbish, many didn’t have family members when they passed on.

On numerous War web sites, ect family members are now search for documentation ect ect. Since U have been properly schooled, you aware of the importance of keeping records, Pics, ect.

While the endeavours to persevere from the carnage of madness this individuals endured, their Heroic gallantry from family members of CEF, writers, ect., will live on.

Guess in this day and age we still, haven't learnt from past mistakes..

Just asking; even though used by mainstream historians and writers the term Great War, was schooled it applies to the Napoleonic wars. As long as the American term WWI is not used Great World War is fine by Moi, lol.

Will send U @ on CEF Study Group Forum, studied Military History at "Wilfrid Laurier University."