Thomas Holliday
Thomas Holliday WW1

Thomas Holliday was born on Tuesday 13th October 1896 at 4.05pm, Merrington, County Durham. He was 5 minutes older than his twin brother George.
His father, Robert, was a Gas Works Stoker at Leasingthorne Colliery.
At the time of the 1901 census Thomas and George lived with their father Robert, mother Catherine and elder sister, Mary Jane aged 6.
By the 1911 census 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.

On Saturday October the 23rd 1915 Thomas Holliday was recruited into the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
It was 10 days past his 19th birthday. Like his brother he was 5ft 4 inches tall with a 34½ inch chest.
His regimental number was 20344
He was living at 2 Pembroke Street, Leeholme, County Durham.
On the day that Thomas enlisted, his twin brother George also joined the RSF. Their regimental numbers were consecutive. George's was 20343.

On Tuesday the 26th of October 1915 Thomas 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.
Thomas’ sister Mary Jane visited Thomas and his brother George in Greenock.
They had their photograph taken by Howle & Co., Photographers, Princess Pier, Greenock.

On Tuesday the 14th March 1916 Thomas was transferred to the 6th Battalion. On Wednesday 15th March, Thomas was at Folkestone and embarked for France.
Thomas joined the battalion strength on 4th April 1916.

Thomas Mary Goerge Holliday WW1
Within a month Thomas was beginning to show the ill health that dogged his time in France till his death 20 months later. He had contracted an infection of the inner ear, Otorrhea, by the 4th May 1916 that needed treatment. He was transferred to 20th General Hospital in Camiers on the 6th May and returned to the battalion on the 15th May. May 22nd saw him at the Convalescence Depot in Etaples until 29th May.
He rejoined the battalion ‘in the field’ on 16th June. July 22 Thomas was treated for an infection of stomach (in the field).

PUO and Myalgia were diagnosed on the 26th July. PUO stood for Pyrexia [fever] of Unknown Origin, and was something of an umbrella term for sickness casualties with high temperature, respiratory affective symptoms, and so on. Myalgia was a chronic and severe muscle pain, caused by trench life. He was admitted to 12th the Stationary Hospital at St Pol, west of Arras till 3rd August.
Thomas’ twin brother George was killed on 10th August 1916.
Thomas would have heard the news when in 1st General Hospital, Etretat, (on the coast near Le Havre) and some distance away. He was there from 7th August to 16th of August and missed the action that killed his brother.
He was convalescing for a week at the 4th convalescent depot Havre from 19th August and rejoined the battalion at Etaples on the 31st
More time was spent in the 5th Convalescent Depot Cayeux, near Boulogne, from the 4th to the 17th of September.

The 6/7 battalion spent October in the Le Sars area, and December of 1916 facing the famous Butte de Warlencourt.
These areas were a ‘morass’. Every road became a watercourse and in the holes the mud was as deep as a man’s thigh. Off the roads the ground was one vast bog. Dug-outs crumbled in. Behind the front lines were six miles of mud. Following such a cold wet winter in the trenches, Thomas, like many other soldiers, suffered after effects.
On 11th January 1917 he was diagnosed with ICT. ICT stood for Inflammation of the Connective Tissue, and was again something of a catch-all term for any sickness casualties with symptoms relating to the musculoskeletal or soft tissue areas of the body.
He was sent to the 6th General Hospital, Rouen till the 22nd of January.

He transferred to 2nd Convalescence Depot Rouen from the 22nd to 29th of January.
Back with the battalion Thomas contracted Bursitis of the left knee (Bursitis is a common form of soft tissue, rheumatic affliction). From the12th February to the 20th he was in the 6th General Hospital, Rouen.
He then convalesced in the 2nd Convalescence Depot, Rouen till the 8th March.
On the 15th March he joined the base Depot at Etaples then rejoined the battalion ‘in the field’ on the 25th.
The 11th of April saw the 15th Division, including the 6/7 RSF, attacked the ‘Orange Hill’ north of Monchy Le Preux.
After an exhausting attack the division was relieved and marched back to Arras.
Thomas was wounded during this action on the 11th with a slight gunshot wound in the neck.
On the 13th April he was admitted with a gun shot wound to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital in Le Treport (at the coast, north of Dieppe)
Again he transferred to the 3rd Convalescent Depot, Le Treport, until the 28th May.
He rejoined the battalion at Etaples but had to return to the 24th General Hospital in Etaples for more treatment on the 22nd June for a week.
He convalesced at the 6th Convalescent Depot, Cayeux (near Boulogne)
Thomas had leave in the UK for a week from 3rd of October till 10th October 1917.
He returned to the battalion ‘in the field’
In November and December of 1917 the 6/7th Battalion was in the trenches east of Arras. The area held was around Twin Copses (east of Marchy-le-Preux north of Roeux) there was no major action at this time; the division was in a quiet area.

Thomas was badly wounded on Thursday the 29th of November. A gun-shot wound entered the abdomen penetrating the right axilla (the armpit)
Robert and Catherine received a telegram on the 1st December 1917 informing them that Thomas was ‘dangerously wounded with a wound to the abdomen.
On the 7th they received another telegram telling them that ‘your son Thomas was slightly improved. It was dated the 2nd December.
On the 14th they received a telegram dated the 9th telling them ‘your son Thomas still improving’.
A week later Friday the 21st of December they received a telegram dated the 16th ‘much regret to inform you your son Thomas died 16th December'.
He died of wounds in the 19th Casualty Clearing Station, France.
Thomas Holliday grave near Arras

On the 17th July 1918 Thomas’ family were sent his personal property.
George’s possessions were just photos and letters. Thomas’ included watch, badges, pen and several other possessions.
Thomas was buried in the British Cemetery at Duisans, 4 miles NW of arras.
We visited his grave in August 1999 and in April 2011 in a group lead by DLI author Harry Moses.
We found the grave very well cared for, having a yellow rose bush growing just in front in 1999, but were disappointed to find the headstone rather worn when we returned in 2011.
In 1999 we took two flowers, one for ourselves and one for Thomas’ niece, my Mam. We left a bunch of roses on his grave. In 2011 we left a cross.

In July 1920 Robert Holliday received the Memorial Death Plaque, known as the Dead Man’s Penny, for his son Thomas.
His family also could apply for the medals that Thomas was entitled too, the British War Medal, 1914-1918, and the Victory Medal.
We don’t know which of the family had these, or their whereabouts today.
Thomas is commemorated on the village memorial near to Coundon church. Unfortunately his initial is incorrectly given as R (his younger brothers initial).
In 2007 a new soldier was carved from a piece of Teesdale limestone for the Coundon and Leeholme War Memorial.
Thomas is correctly remembered on the roll of honour in Leeholme Community Centre.

Thomas is the great uncle of Len Skelton of Newton Aycliffe

Leeholme Memorial WW1 Leeholme Coundon Memorial WW1