Rank:


Private

Service No(s):


262901

Regiment:


Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment)

Unit:

1/8th Battalion

Returned:

No

Place of birth:

Islington - Middlesex

Occupation:

Date of death:

15/09/1916

Cause of death:

Killed in action

Grave or panel reference:

VI. E. 9.

Name of father:

James Holmes

Name of siblings:

James Holmes

Name(s) of children:

Died:

Yes

Date of birth:

Place of enlistment:

Camden Town – Middlesex

Event:

France and Belgium

Age at death:

21

Cemetery or memorial:

Combles Communal Cemetery Extension, France

Other memorial:

St. Mellitus Church

Name of mother:

Charlotte Holmes (née Mitchell)

Name of spouse:

Address:

7 Evershot Road, Stroud Green

Biography:

Leonard Holmes was born in Islington in 1895. He was the second son of James and Charlotte Holmes, who had both been married before and were in their mid-sixties and late-thirties respectively when they had Leonard and James, his older brother by two years. The boys had six half-siblings on their father’s side and two stepbrothers, John and Fred Martin, who are listed as living with them in the 1901 Census.

Home for the Holmes family was 7 Evershot Road, directly opposite New Court Congregational Church. The 1911 Census records Leonard’s occupation as telephone operator, but by February 1913, when he enlisted with the Territorial Force, he was working at the Mallett, Porter & Dowd building in Caledonian Road. The paperwork also reveals he was of fair appearance, stood just 5ft 2in tall and had a chest measurement of 30in. In between those records, early in 1912, Leonard’s father died at the age of 82. 

The Territorial Force was embodied (mobilised for full-time war service) in August 1914, but it was two years before Leonard joined the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. His war record states he ‘left base to join 12th Batt, London Regiment’ on 15 July 1916, but two days later was ‘compulsorily transferred’ to 1/8th Battalion, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment), and served as a Private.

Leonard was killed in action while his battalion was serving with the 167th Brigade, 56th (London) Division during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. His date of death is given as 15 September 1916, on which his battalion lost 245 men in total. He is buried at Combles Communal Cemetery Extension, where his grave is marked with a cross and the words ‘His sacrifice for those he loved’. He was awarded the British War, Star and Victory medals and is commemorated at St Mellitus.

For Leonard’s family, the end was not so neatly tied up. New Court Congregational Church published a manual each year that, during the war, featured a roll of honour listing the names of local men who were serving or had died in service. For three consecutive years, Leonard’s entry carried a footnote denoting that he had officially been reported missing, and his Army records show that it was May 1919 before his mother Charlotte signed paperwork confirming the names and addresses of his living relatives. So it may have been more than two years before his fate was confirmed.