Lance Corporal Frederick Edwin Hollis, ‘C’ Company, 1st/8th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was born in Packwood in 1890 and died on 27th August 1916.
He was initially reported missing, and there was an announcement in Knowle parish magazine in August 1917 suggesting he was a prisoner of war. In fact, he had been killed on 27th August 1916 in the attack on the German “Constance trench” (so named by Australian troops), which ran near Mouquet Farm (apparently known to the British as “Mucky Farm” and to the Australians as “Moo-cow Farm”). The farm was completely destroyed by three weeks of fighting and had to be completely rebuilt after the war.
Zero-hour on 27th August was 7pm, when the field artillery would commence an intense shrapnel barrage on the front of the attack, and ‘C’ and ‘D’ companies mounting ladders from their trench, advancing up to the barrage. At zero plus five, the barrage would lift to allow the leading wave to enter the enemy trenches. The Battalion War Diary reports that ‘C’ Company reached its objective but was heavily bombed and forced to retire, suffering heavy losses in the process. (Information from unpublished research by the late Alan Tucker).
Frederick Edwin Hollis was the third of the eight children of parents John (a gardener) and Charlotte, who lived at Darley Green, Packwood from at least 1891 until at least 1901. Their address in 1911 is given as Packwood Cottages, Dorridge.
Frederick’s service record hasn’t survived but he appeared to have no entitlement to a 1914 or 1914/15 Star so didn’t serve overseas before 1916. Two of his brothers are known to have enlisted. Older brother William joined the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry and served in France from 18th September 1915 to 16th November 1915 and in Salonika 17th November 1915 to 15th December 1917. On 10th April 1917, he received a gunshot wound to the head and underwent an operation the following day, which removed part of the bone. Having then to wear a skull cap to protect the head, and suffering from headaches, vomiting and confusion, he was discharged on 18th January 1918 as no longer fit for military service.
Youngest brother, Thomas Charles Hollis, was born on 2nd September 1899, so was under age when he enlisted in the Army on 11th January 1915. Aged only 15 years and four months, he gave his age as 19 years 120 days and so was initially accepted as a recruit. His real age was discovered and he was discharged on 19th February 1915 “having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment”.
Frederick Hollis has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as well as locally on war memorials at Hockley Heath, Knowle and Packwood.
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