Personal info

  • Name: Thomas William HOLMES
  • D.O.B: 13th October, 1898
  • D.O.A: 27th October, 1917
  • D.O.D: 4th January, 1950
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Private, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, 2nd Central Ontario Regiment, 8th Brigade, 3rd Division, Canadian Expeditionary Force
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West of Passchendaele, Belgium 26 October 1917

26 October 1917

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The First World War 1917 

After the failed advance on 12 October 1917, Sir Douglas Haig brought in Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Currie and the Canadian Expeditionary Force. On 26 October he launched the Second Battle of Passchendaele. The Canadian 4th Division advanced south of the Ravebeek, which the rains had turned into a quagmire. At the same time two brigades of 3rd Division attacked the Bellevue and Wallemollen spurs to the north of the stream. Bellevue was crossed by the road from Ypres through Meetcheele to Oostnieuwkerke. North of the road, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles found their path blocked by a pillbox north of Wolf Copse. This was captured by Private T W Holmes. Elsewhere the advance encountered heavy resistance but Lieutenant R Shankland, 43rd Battalion Manitoba Regiment, succeeded in establishing a position on the crest of Bellevue Ridge, though for a time he was out of contact with headquarters. After the initial attack appeared to have stalled, reserves including 52nd Battalion The Manitoba Regiment, were brought forward and managed to clear German pillboxes and repel counter-attacks. Acting Captain C P J O’Kelly distinguished himself in this work. The Canadians thus laid the groundwork for the second phase of the Battle on 30 October.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery and resource when the right flank of our attack was held up by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from a “pill-box”’ strong point. Heavy casualties were producing a critical situation when Pte. Holmes, on his own initiative and single-handed, ran forward and threw two bombs, killing and wounding the crews of two machine guns. He then returned to his comrades, secured another bomb, and again rushed forward alone under heavy fire and threw the bomb into the entrance of the “pill-box,” causing the nineteen occupants to surrender. By this act of valour at a very critical moment Pte. Holmes undoubtedly cleared the way for the advance of our troops and saved the lives of many of his comrades. 

Sixth Supplement to The London Gazette of 8 January 1918. 11 January 1918, Numb. 30471, p. 724

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