Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 21, 1893
Place of BirthBacup, Lancashire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinWalter and Eliza Holt (parents), 3 Sutherland Street, Queen's Road, Miles Platting, Manchester
Trade / CallingWire drawer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number2613
Battalion2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment
BranchBritish Army
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment3 Sutherland Street, Queen's Road, Miles Platting, Manchester, England
Date of EnlistmentJuly 8, 1912
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarYes
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 17, 1936
Age at Death42
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Holt, Harry

Lance Corporal Harry Holt joined the British army in 1912 and served for eight years, two of them spent as a German prisoner of war. After his discharge in 1920 he immigrated to Canada.

Harry was the son of Walter Holt and Eliza Riley of Manchester, Lancashire, England. Walter and Eliza were married in 1890 and they had six children: George, Harry, Elsie, Albert and two others who died young. Harry was born in December 1893 in the parish of Waterfoot in Bacup, a small village north of Manchester. By the time of the 1901 census his family was living in Manchester where his father worked as a corporation labourer. In 1911 Harry was still at home and he was employed as a wire drawer for a wire works company. The following year he joined the British army reserve, signing up with the 4th Battalion Manchester Regiment on 8 July 1912 in Manchester. He was listed as 18 years old, living at home and working as a wire drawer. He trained in the UK for a year and in July 1913 he applied for enlistment in the regular British army. He attested on 17 July at Ashton-under-Lyne and joined his new unit, the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, at Curragh Camp in Ireland.

Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 and ten days later the 2nd Battalion left for France. They disembarked on 15 August and later that month they took part in the Battle of Le Cateau. Over the next few months they were involved in several more operations. In October Harry was transferred to the 3rd Battalion Manchester Regiment and in February 1915 he returned to the 2nd Battalion. In March his unit fought at Neuve Chapelle and in April they were at the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium. Late in 1915 they were based near the town of Albert on the Somme, where they spent most of the following year.

Harry developed an ear infection at the end of August 1916 and he was treated at No. 4 Stationary Hospital for a week. Over the next two months his unit had regular rotations in the front line, first near B├ęthune then back in the Albert area for the Somme Offensive (1 July-18 November 1916). Late on the night of 15 November they relieved the 1st Berkshire Regiment in Serre Trench and the move was completed by early the next morning. On 17 November the Germans attacked and bombed the 2nd Battalion’s sector and the following day, in another assault, the Germans captured a portion of the trench. Casualties for the battalion over the two days were 12 killed, 42 wounded and 261 missing. Harry was listed as one of the missing. He had been taken as a prisoner of war and also suffered a wound to his right arm.

About a week after being captured Harry was moved to Germany and he spent the next two years in at least two different camps. In the fall of 1917 he was at Munster, where 20,000 prisoners were kept in a group of four POW camps. The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November 1918 and Harry was repatriated to the UK five weeks later, arriving at Hull, East Yorkshire on 19 December. In March 1919 he was transferred to the British army reserve and he spent the next few months in Belfast. He was awarded the 1914 Star and the British War and Victory Medals. Harry applied to the overseas settlement board to immigrate to Canada and after being accepted he requested a discharge from the army. He was discharged on 22 June 1920 and he sailed for Canada eight days later on the Empress of France, landing in Quebec on 8 July.

After spending some time in Toronto Harry moved west to Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was married in Winnipeg on 11 July 1925 to 21-year-old Leah Matthews. Leah was born in Pendleton, Greater Manchester, England and she had arrived in Canada in March 1921 to join her stepfather George Crawford in Winnipeg. Her mother Harriet Crawford came from England two months later. Harry and Leah had one child, a daughter, who was born in 1926 or 1927. Sadly Leah died on 3 April 1927, at age 23, suffering from tuberculosis of the kidney. She’s buried in West Kildonan Cemetery. Harry and Leah’s daughter was raised by her grandparents, George and Harriet Crawford.

Harry worked at Pine Falls and at the Slave Falls Power Development, both on the Winnipeg River. In the summer of 1935 he moved to Keewatin, Ontario where he was employed as a steel sharpener with the Assiniboia Construction Company. He joined the Keewatin Branch of the Army and Navy Veterans. On 16 May 1936 Harry was seriously injured when a car backed into him in Pellatt, a small community near Keewatin. He died the following morning in the Kenora General Hospital. His funeral was held on 19 May, with a number of veterans in attendance, and he is buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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