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  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line
Person Details
Basford, Nottingham
Ernest Holmes was the son of Benjamin and Ruth Holmes and the brother of James, Elizabeth, Ethel, Ann, Benjamin, Emily, Arthur and Doris Jones. In 1891 and 1901, they lived at 24, Brown Croft, Old Basford, Nottingham. Ernest Holmes married Lily Jones (born 27th July 1888) in 1910 in the Nottingham Registration District. In 1911, they lived at 8, Fairfax Terrace, Radford Road, New Basford. They later lived at 7, Belvedere Place, Cornhill Street, Radford Street, Hyson Green (both Nottingham). Lily Jones already had a daughter, Daisy Jones born 27th June 1909. Ernest and Lily had 2 further children, Benjamin Holmes born 10th May 1910 and Ruth Holmes, who was born 12th May 1915 and died on 14th May 1917. With effect from 9/4/1917, Lily was awarded a weekly pension of 26/3d which was reduced to 22/11d following the death of her daughter Ruth.
Ernest Holmes was a webbing trimmer in 1901 and a colliery shunter above ground in 1911.
01 Jul 1916
31
792945 - CWGC Website
17724
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Ernest Holmes enlisted at Nottingham. He was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme as 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade, 8th Division attached from 23rd Division) attacked German positions near Ovillers. Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson,* to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3) 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill, custodian of the Sherwood Foresters' archives, adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Holmes is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 10 C 10 D and 11 A.
Family reasearch by Peter Gillings Military research by David Nunn
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line
    Photo David Nunn - Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line