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RAMC profile of:
[Service No:  46907]

Place or Date
of Birth:
102 Piccadilly Road, Habergham Eaves, Burnley, Lancashire on 13th February 1894

Service Number: 46907

TF Number:

Rank: Pte

Unit: H.M.H.S. "Britannic"

Attached To:

Enlistment Location:

Also Served: Various - see below

Outcome: Survived the war

Date Died: 27th April 1963
Age Died: 69

Where Buried and/or Commemorated:


Gazette Reference:

Other Information:

In 1906, Holmes was a Cotton Weaver, he was 12 years old and had to have a Labour Certificate showing that he was legally of an age to go out to work. He enlisted into the R.A.M.C. and was posted for duty in Manchester on 23rd November 1914, training with Z Coy. According to his MIC, he entered the war on 26th November, 3 days later, serving on a Hospital Ship - his service record states with the British Expeditionary Force. On 7th June 1916. he returned to the UK and remained there until 24th September 1916, when he began service with H.M.H.S. 'Britannic'. On 21st November 1916, H.M.H.S. Britannic struck a mine off the Greek Island of Kea and sank, Holmes was on board, and he and seven of his comrades assisted Major Harold E Priestly (RAMC) to jettison life rafts and deck chairs overboard in the final stages of the ship's sinking. Holmes and the Major were among the occupants of the last lifeboat to be lowered. This lifeboat was on the starboard side and was lowered at about 9.00 in the morning. The survivors of the tragedy were transferred to the island of Malta on board another hospital ship - the “Grantully Castle”. Holmes arrived back in the UK on 8th December 1916, where he stayed until 9th January 1917. He then began his journey to Salonika, arriving on the 31st he remained there until 5th February 1919. He disembarked in the UK on 27th February and was transferred to Z Reserve on 23rd March 1919, his transfer papers state his unit as No 29 General Hospital. On three occasions during his service, Holmes was admitted into hospital suffering from Influenza and Bronchitis. After the war, Holmes returned to being a cotton weaver in Burnley. He married Ellen Calvert on 30th June 1925 in Howard Street Methodist Church, Burnley. He was 31 and Ellen was 29, just 23 days short of her 30th birthday. At the time of his only daughter (Elsie)'s birth on 1st December 1927, He was a Colliery Banksman/Lampman at the Clifton Pit in Burnley. He was also the First Aider for the mine. He joined the St John Ambulance Brigade whilst in Burnley and, as a Corporal, was awarded the Brigade's Long Service Medal - Number 8943. He then earned two further bars to this medal but the second was not awarded. He was appointed Ambulance Officer on 25th June 1934. Sometime between 1925 to 1936, Holmes was advised by his doctor to get out of Burnley for the sake of his health. The damp and sooty air, cotton and coal dust in Burnley was beginning to affect his health and Holmes took his family to Morecambe, Lancashire. He obtained employment as the Baths Maintenance Engineer at Morecambe's Super Swimming Stadium. As Baths Maintenance engineer he had to attend at the Baths every time there was an air-raid warning as the Baths were used as a decontamination centre for the RAF stationed in Morecambe. In 1937 he was instrumental in establishing the Boy Cadet Division of St John in Morecambe. The Cadet Brigade gave him an illuminated citation commemorating 5 years of hard work in building the Brigade up. He eventually had to give up his work with St John in November 1942 due to his employment and health. He remained a baths engineer until he retired, making a move to Darwen in Lancashire to take up post there. In 1955, whilst living in Darwen, Holmes was invited to attend a reunion of the Britannic survivors but did not attend. He returned to Morecambe after a heart attack and joined his wife in the running of her boarding house in the town entertaining many visitors from Burnley and East Lancashire. Holmes health had deteriorated over the years suffering from myocardial degeneration and chronic bronchitis. He died attended by his wife at their boarding house home. He was the eldest child and only son of John William, RAMC and Elizabeth Brelsford (nee Bennett), and the second cousin of Harry Brelsford, RAMC. [Information sources: MIC, Pension Record and Holmes’s family (Photograph courtesy of his family)]

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