Private Ernest Edward (Edwin) HOLMES


Regiment/Service:
East Yorkshire Regiment
(Formerly: Yorkshire Regiment)
Unit:
10th (Hull Commercials) Battalion
Service Number:
52800
(Formerly: 243823 Yorkshire Regiment "Green Howards")
Date of Death:
28 June 1918 - Killed in Action
Age:
26
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 4

Personal History:
Ernest was born in the December quarter 1891, the son of James (General Labourer) and Susan Holmes, He had four older brothers and sisters, Sarah Elizabeth (Married Thomas O. F. Goodwin - December quarter 1911 - see Footnote below), Ethel Amelia Jubilee, Daisy Margaret and James William, and a younger brother, Henry Charles, and in 1901 were living at 12 Church Street, Buxton (Census RG 13/3720).

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21243) Ernest's father was employed as a "Licensed Bathchaise Man" and the family had moved to No. 1 Church Street. The family had adopted Ada Lomas (born 1904) and Ernest was working as a "House painter".

Military History:
Ernest enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment at Buxton. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1915 Star Medal. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say what his War service postings were, nor when he transferred to the East Yorkshire Regiment. However, by comparing his Service Number with others whose records do exist, it is likely that he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment in late 1917.

The 10th (Service) Battalion (1st Hull) Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment was originally formed in Hull on the 29th August 1914 by Lord Nunburnholme and the East Riding T.F. Association. In June 1915 it was attached to 92nd Brigade, 31st Division and on the 15th December 1915 moved to Egypt. The 31st Division was largely comprised of locally raised units often known as "Pals". The units from Accrington, Leeds, Bradford, Barnsley and Hull are among the best known.

The 10th Battalion was subsequently posted to France and between 1-6 March the Division sailed to Marseilles for service on the Western Front, in particular in readiness for The Battle of The Somme. On the first day of the Battle it was engaged in The Battle of Albert, including the attack on Serre.

It is unlikely, however, that Ernest would have joined his Battalion until 1918. During The First Battles of the Somme, 21st March - 5th April, it fought at The Battle of St Quentin, 21st - 23rd March; The First Battle of Bapaume, 24th - 25th March , and The First Battle of Arras on 28th March. The following month, during the Battles of the Lys, 9th - 29th April the Battalion fought at The Battle of Éstaires; The Battle of Hazebrouck; the Defence of Nieppe Forest, and the attack at La Becque.

On the day Ernest was Killed in Action, 28 June 1918, 1 Officer (Major Colin Balfour TRAILL, M.C.) and 31 other ranks of the 10th Battalion also died. These deaths were probably during a successful British attack at La Becque, about 1kilometre West of Vieux Berquin, North of Merville. Following the Battle of the Scherpenberg, 29 April 1918, the 31st Division were lent to XI Corps for the action of La Becque.

The battle began with an intense shrapnel barrage over the enemy front line at 6.00 a.m. and
the attacking troops advanced through a field of tall crops. The enemy wire was easily passed
through and the first wave was able to close up to the barrage before its first lift.

Unfortunately the 10th Battalion on the extreme right of the 31st Division front, ran into the
barrage of a few guns firing short into the right forward company of the 10th East Yorkshires,
Major Colin Traill was among those killed and possibly this is when Ernest fell.

When the shrapnel barrage lifted, the attacking troops rushed forward, giving the enemy little
or no chance to reach machine guns or man parapets before being overrun. At the right of
the front, the 10th East Yorkshires encountered little resistance in reaching all of their objectives
by 7.20 a.m.

                              



In the edition of 20th July 1918, 'The Buxton Advertiser' reported, rather dramatically, that Ernest's mother had received in the post a package containing: "… a pocket wallet, in which were carried the letters, photos and various other oddments in the way of souvenirs, and so forth, so dear to the soldier; there was also a little khaki pocket Testament, inside which was inscribed a soldier's name and home address. This pocket wallet came from France, the land of shadows, and it brought a shadow in its train."

His mother had also received a letter signed by Lieutenant H. C. Clarke, which said: "It is my painful duty to return to you the pocket wallet and Testament, which were the property of your son, the late Pte. E. E. Holmes, of the 11th East Yorks. Regt. His body was found by some of my men, and the articles mentioned above were taken from his pockets. In the sad circumstances of his death in action, I tender my deepest sympathy in your great bereavement." [This Officer was probably of the 10th South Staffordshire Regiment.}

Under these circumstances it might be expected that Ernest would have been buried, indeed 19 of the 10th
Battalion's casualties that day were buried in Aval Wood Military Cemetery. Ernest, however, now has no
known grave and he is commemorated, with four others of his Battalion, on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

He is also remembered on his parents' grave in Buxton Cemetery.


Footnote:
· Ernest's sister, Sarah Elizabeth, married Private Thomas O. F. GOODWIN in the December quarter 1911. Thomas
  served with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) and was killed in action on the 30 September 1915
Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 20 July 1918
· I am grateful to Chris Pratt for the photo of Ernest's name on the Memorial
· "The History of the East Yorkshire Regiment in the Great War" by Everard Wyrall

Commemorated on:
Ernest's parents' grave in Buxton Cemetery
Link to CWGC Record
The Ploegstert Memorial
Pt Ernest Holmes' name on the Memorial
10/East Yorks Attack at La Becque
10/East Yorks Attack at La Becque
Ernest's parents'grave
Ernest is commemorated on his parents' grave in Buxton Cemetery
poppy
..... about the action at La Becque