George Holliday
George Holliday WW1

George Holliday was the son of Robert and Catherine Holliday of 2, Pembroke Street, Leeholme. George Holliday was born on Tuesday October 13, 1896 at 4.05pm, Merrington, County Durham. He was 5 minutes younger than his twin brother Thomas. His father, Robert, was a Gas Works Stoker at Leasingthorne Colliery.

At the time of the 1901 census George and Thomas lived with their father Robert, mother Catherine and elder sister Mary Jane aged 6.
By 1911 Mary Jane had left home and the twins, aged 11, were now living at 2 Pembroke St. Leeholme. Their 2 brothers John, 9, and Robert, 6, were living at home.

Both George and his twin brother Thomas enlisted into the 6th/7th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. George enlisted October 23, 1915. He was 19, just 10 days after his birthday. He was 5' 4" tall and weighed 118 lbs. His complexion was fresh and he had blue eyes and brown hair. His regimental number was 20343 and his twin Thomas had the next regimental number - 20344.

On Tuesday the 26th of October 1915 George joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers at Ayr, in Scotland. When he arrived he was posted to the 3rd Battalion. In the early part of 1916 the 3rd Reserve Battalion, was transferred to Greenock near Glasgow.

George’s sister Mary Jane visited George and his brother Thomas in Greenock. They had their photograph taken by Howle & Co., Photographers, Princess Pier, Greenock.

On Tuesday the 14th March 1916 George was transferred to the 6th Battalion.

On Wednesday 15th March, George was at Folkstone and embarked for France. By Friday the 7th April George had joined his battalion in the field.
The battalion spent the first 3 months of 1916 in the Ploegsteert section of the front and saw little action
The battalion was commanded by Colonel Winston Churchill following his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty on 15th November due to the failure of the Gallipoli campaign.

The difficulty of keeping Scots battalions up to strength caused the amalgamation of the 6th and 7th battalions into the 6/7th battalion.
Battalion war diaries show that on the 7th May 1915 Colonel Churchill left the battalion.
On the 11th of May 1916 the 6th and 7th battalions were merged.
The section of the front occupied by the 6/7th battalion in May 1916 was the Hohenzorrern section, it had the worst reputation on the front at that time. Mines exploded daily, and nightly.
The 6/7th battalion were in the 45th Brigade, 15th Scottish Division.
In May 1916 George took part in several actions including an attack up ‘Gordon’ and ‘Hulluch’ alleys. They had little success.

Thomas Mary and George Holliday ww1

Thomas, Mary Jane and George Holliday


June 25th 1916 Major E I D Gordon took command of the battalion.
On 22nd of July the division moved south and marched 64 miles passing through Chateaux Brijas, Flers, Frohen le Grand, Mairie (Burnaville) Vignacourt, Chateau St. Gratien and Chateau Baizieux.
The 15th division was deployed from Ginchy through Delville wood to high wood then West between Martinpiuch and Pozieres. The plateau was 500 feet in height and was important because it controlled most of the surrounding area.
July 31st 1917 at 9am the 45th Brigade moved from assembly point at Cambridge Road towards Black Line. The 6/7th were on the right. They were near Bremen redoubt just south of the Ypres to Zonnebeke Road.

On July 31st 1917, 9am, the 6/7th moved from an assembly point to position near the Bremen redoubt just south of the Ypres to Zonnebeke Road.
On the 1st August the 6/7th were entrenched from Gloucester Alley to Munster Alley. They found their trenches in deplorable condition and had to repair them.
The 6/7th Battalion was involved in action on the 8th August 1916 and 6 military medals were given to ‘other ranks’
On Thursday the 10th August orders were issued for the 6/7 battalion to attack, 2 days later, the German line south of Martinpiuch.
There were 7 casualties in minor actions during the day. George Holliday was one of the 7 casualties in the 6/7th battalion on the 10th August, 1916.
George Holliday Memorial Card George’s family were sent an ‘In Memoriam’ card following his death. The date is incorrect.
On the 15th December 1916 his family were sent his personal property, photographs and letters.
This suggests that his body, rather than being ‘lost’ or ‘destroyed’ was buried and that at the end of the war his grave was not found, or his remains could not be identified.
As George has no known grave he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial together with 72,000 other soldiers.

Len and Sue Skelton visited Thiepval in August of 1999 and in May 2011 and photographed the inscription of his name.
In the visitor centre was a database of ‘The Missing’ created by Pam & Ken Linge. It is to commemorate those whose names are on Thiepval. Len and Sue contacted them on their return home and passed on information and family photographs. The story of George and his brother and half brother were added to the database.

At the end of the war George’s father, Robert Holliday, wrote to the Officer i/c Records.
He said he had received a memorial plaque and scroll for his son Thomas, but none for George. He said ‘He would be glad to have them’
He mistakenly quoted George’s date of death as 1915 rather than 1916 and he still believed that George was killed on the 9th August rather the 10th.
The plaque was sent to him on the 3rd may 1919.
George was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Goerge Holliday Thiepval Memorial

Cojndon Leeholme statue

As Well as being remembered on the monument at Thiepval, George is also commemorated on the village memorial near to Coundon church.
Coundon and Leeholme erected a combined memorial at the junction of the two roads leading into Coundon. Hundreds of residents turned out to watch the statue of a soldier unveiled on September 24, 1921. The plinth below the statue held the names of the fallen.
The statue was removed for repairs in the 1960s after being deemed unsafe. The figure was so badly damaged that it was too expensive to repair.
In 2007 a new soldier was carved from a piece of Teesdale limestone.

George is also remembered on the roll of honour in Leeholme Community Centre.

George is the great uncle of Len Skelton of Noewton Aycliffe

Leeholme Coundon Memorial Board


George Holliday Leeholme Memorial