Frederick Holmes was born in Abbey Street, Bermondsey on 27th September 1889 and baptised at the nearby St Mary Magdalene church. After attending a London Board School he joined the British Army in 1907. He served for seven years but within two weeks of leaving the First World War started and he was recalled as a reservist.
Soon after arriving in France with the British Expeditionary Force, Holmes was involved in fighting at Le Cateau. When Norman Woodcock was badly wounded, Holmes carried the 12 stone on his back for two miles until he reached some stretcher bearers. Holmes returned to his battalion to find many of them killed or wounded. later under heavy fire he helped to drive a gun out of action by taking the place of a driver who was wounded.
Soon afterwards Holmes was so badly wounded that he came close to having his leg amputated. For the bravery, he showed at Le Cateau, Holmes won the Victoria Cross. It was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915.
Holmes was promoted to Sergeant when he returned to the Western Front in October 1915. In December he was transferred to India and in March 1917 became a Second Lieutenant and sent to Mesopotamia, where he fractured his skull. No longer fit enough for active service, Holmes worked in the Military Record Office in London. (Obviously, there is a gap between this job & having six children so the next bit of information would have been many years later & not directly after the War).) When he came back from the war he and his wife had six children in quite quick succession. They were very poor and he couldn't find work and they were facing going into the workhouse. He sold his Victoria Cross to prevent them going into the workhouse (Sold privately 80,000 pound). It seems so sad that this brave man who gave so much for his country was put into that situation to save his family.
After the war, Holmes emigrated to Australia. In a letter, he wrote to his regiment he complained that his war injuries were causing him serious health problems and he was "practically a cripple". Frederick Holmes died in Port Augusta on 22nd October 1969.
& was cremated at the Stirling District Crematorium, Adelaide. BURIAL PLACE: STIRLING NORTH CEMETERY, PORT AUGUSTA, AUSTRALIA.
There is a memorial in Marryatt Street, Gladstone Square, Port Augusta.
On 26th August 2014, Fred Holmes was honoured with a commemorative paving stone marking his birth place on Abbey Street, Bermondsey outside what is now the Bermondsey Square Hotel.
Lest we forget
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