ERNEST HOLMES

Private 21/112, Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)

Killed in Action 11th May 1917 aged 41

No Known Grave Commemorated Arras Memorial, France

Son of Abraham and Elizabeth Holmes

Lived 20, Chapel Lane, Heckmondwike


Ernest was born in Batley in 1876, the eldest son of Abraham Holmes, a Rag Grinder and Anne Elizabeth Waring who had been born in Knottingley. They first lived at Kilpin Hill but had moved to 20, Chapel Lane, Heckmondwike by 1901. They had ten children and attended the Upper Independent Chapel and Sunday school.

Ernest remained single and lived at home with his parents. He worked as a Mason’s Apprentice, employed by Mr T Oldroyd, Contractor.  He enlisted at Dewsbury as a Private in the Pioneer Battalion of the 21st West Yorkshire Regiment on 11th November 1915.  He went through a course of training at Halifax and then Skipton before being sent to France in June 1916.

The Upper Independent Chapel produced a monthly magazine during the war years to enable the active service members to read news of their friends on the Chapel Roll of Honour. The May 1917 issue reported that the Chapel had held a photographic exhibition on 21st April to show the first batch of photographs of their soldiers. Seven large frames, with twelve photographs in each were displayed, with more to follow.  The speeches alluded to the pride that was felt of the 150 men who had gone from Upper Chapel to fight for liberty and justice.

The June 1917 issue published the photograph of Ernest and the following report.  “Our Roll of Honour has again been broken into. This month we have to record the loss of Ernest Holmes, who has given his all in the service of his country. Unofficial information of his death was received by his parents on May 22nd. Private Holmes who was 41 years of age and unmarried, volunteered for service in November 1915, joining the Pioneer Battalion of the 21st West Yorkshire Regiment, with which he went to France last June. With his parents and other members of the family, we express our deepest sympathy. Two of the deceased soldier’s brothers are in the Army”.

Ernest had been killed in action on 11th May 1917.

Medals: Victory and British.

Commemorated: Upper Independent Chapel War Memorial, outside the United Reform Church, High Street, Heckmondwike; Green Park Memorial and Vellum Roll in Heckmondwike Library.
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