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James E Holden

Date of birth: 1892
Date of death: 22.10.1916
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: 1/4th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of Hiram and Julia Holden, husband of Laura nee Moss
Rank: Private
Service number: 2445

War Service

At the outbreak of war, when the family was living at Chapelthorpe, he joined the Wakefield Territorial Force, the 4th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
On 13th April 1915, Private James Edward Holden, along with the 1/4th Battalion, KOYLI left York and travelled, via Folkestone and Boulogne, to join the British Expeditionary Force. On 28th April, the 1/4th KOYLI entered the line near Fleurbaix in the Bois Grenier. The following month the 1st West Riding Brigade, was designated 148th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.
On 9th July 1915, the 49th Division, moved into the sector between Ypres and Boesinghe, which was the left flank of the British Army line in Flanders. Throughout the summer, the 49th Division was engaged in constructing and repairing trenches and strong points, which were constantly shelled by the enemy artillery. After rain the ground became a quagmire and, as winter approached, trench feet became a problem for the troops. After the gas attack of 19th December 1915, the 1/4th KOYLI, in Brigade, was withdrawn from this sector
During the spring of 1916, the 1/4th KOYLI, was used by the 112th Railway Construction Company near Acheux. This was followed by training near Villers-Bocage for the forthcoming battle. At this time, Private James Edward Holden returned to England and, on 3rd June 1916, married Laura Moss at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood
On the 1st July 1916, the opening day of the battle of the Somme, the 49th (West Riding) Division was in Reserve. However, the 1/4th and 1/5th KOYLI battalions were placed at the disposal of the 96th Infantry Brigade and were used in a support capacity. On 6th July, the 1/4th KOYLI relieved the 1/5th KOYLI, in the “A” Line trenches. At 02.00 hrs. on the 7th July, the enemy opened an intense bombardment on the 1/4th KOYLI positions in the “A” Line, resulting in numerous casualties. At 02.50 hrs, enemy bombers attacked and there was heavy fighting with bombs until 06.30 hrs, when the forward companies were forced to retire to the original British front line. Later that day the battalion was withdrawn to Hedauville for re-organisation.
The 1/4th KOYLI did not return to the trenches until the 21st July, when they rejoined the 148th Brigade, deployed in the Leipzig Salient. On the 23rd July, part of the battalion was ordered into attack, but having incurred heavy casualties crossing “No Man’s Land”, was forced to retire. The 1/4th KOYLI remained within the Somme battlefield until 23rd September, where they were deployed digging trenches and other working party duties, when not in the front line.
On the 19th October 1916, the 1/4th KOYLI returned to the Hebuterne sector. At 16.00 hrs. on 22nd October, the German artillery put down a heavy bombardment on the battalion’s front line and support trenches. Private Holden was killed during this bombardment, but his body was never identified. Subsequently his name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial, which bears the names of over 72000 men who died on the Somme sector and who have no known grave. James Edward Holden is also remembered on the War Memorial at Crigglestone.
Early in 1917, his wife Laura Holden, living at 3 Beech Grove, Ledger Lane, Outwood gave birth to a son, who was also given the names James Edward.

Family Life

James Edward Holden was born in 1892, at Bruntcliffe, near Morley, the son of Hiram and Julia Holden. The family, at various times, lived at Morley, Leeds, Castleford, Royston and Durkar, as Hiram, his father, sought work as a coal miner. When old enough to work, James Edward followed his father and older brothers, into the mining industry.


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