Thursday 14 December 2017

Clergyman's son killed in action 22nd December 1917

Second Lieutenant William Leslie Holt 

York and Lancaster Regiment 

Killed in Action 22nd December 1917

William Leslie Holt was born in Leicester on the 7th March 1898, the son of Shropshire born Reverend Alfred Holt, who was a clergyman of the Church of England, and his wife Sarah Annie, who was the daughter of the late James and Mary Walters of Derby.

In 1901, William was three years old and had three older sisters, Margaret, sixteen, Dorothy, eleven and Milicent, seven. The family were then living at 8 Upper King Street, Leicester. In 1901, when William was thirteen, they had moved to The Vicarage, Holy Bones, Leicester and William's father was also a schoolteacher with the Leicester borough Council Education Authority.

William attended the Wyggeston Boys' School in Leicester from 1905 until May 1911 when the family moved to The Oaks Vicarge, Oaks Road, Charley, near Loughborough where Reverend Alfred Holt took up his post as Clerk in Holy Orders. William's sister, Dorothy, died in 1911 and William joined the Loughborough Grammar School on the 5th May 1911, when he was thirteen. He spent five years at the school where he joined the school's cadet force. He left when he was almost nineteen (eighteen years and eleven months) and his report card states that he was 'called up to the Army' and joined the Nottingham University O. T. C. He was later transferred to an Officer Cadet Unit in Oxford and his enlistment date is recorded as 28th March 1917 with the 10th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, when he was gazetted as Second Lieutenant. He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium from the 10th May 1917. On the 15th July 1917 he was wounded near Ypres and was 'home on leave' in November 1917. Three weeks later,
Second Lieutenant Holt was killed instantly by a shell. His records show that he was killed in action on the 23rd December 1917 as does De Ruvigney's Roll of Honour and some Commonwealth Ward Graves Commission documents, although others and his headstone show Saturday, 22nd December 1917.

His Commanding Officer wrote: "I need hardly say he is a loss to this Battalion, as he was so cheerful and willing to do anything for anybody." Four brother officers, in a joint letter, stated: "Your son proved himself a most excellent soldier and comrade."

An extract from The Loughbrurian, the Magazine of Loughborough Grammar School stated: "He was a mixture of strength and gentleness. Here he was liked and respected and trusted by all."

William was just nineteen when he died.

Second Lieutenant William Leslie Holt is buried at Spoilbank Military Cemerery, near Zillebeke in Belgium and the text on his headstone reads:
I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God. Ps LXX1.14.

 William Holt is remembered on the Loughborough Carillon Tower War Memorial, Shepshed War Memorial, Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys Memorial, Leicester, Loughborough Grammar School Memorial and the Roll of Honour in St. James the Greater Church, Oaks in Charnwood.

Copyright Karen Ette

Copyright Karen Ette

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