201181 PTE. E. HOLDEN. L.N.LAN.R
Elijah Holden was born on 19 October 1896 in Lostock Hall and baptised on Christmas Day of that year at St Saviour’s in Bamber Bridge. His father was William Holden (b. 1862 in Charnock Richard), a railway engine driver. His mother was Ellen Turner (b. 1860 in Chorley). William and Ellen were married at Chorley St Peter’s on 8 July 1882 and they had 8 children, of whom Elijah was second youngest: James William (b. 1883), Ada (b. 1885), Thomas Edwin (b. 1886), Ethel (b. 1888), Lily (b. 1891, died the following year), Amy (b. 1892), Elijah, and finally Georgina (b. 1899). As they became old enough to work all the siblings found employment in the cotton mill. In 1891, they lived at 11 Fairfield Street in Lostock Hall, but the mother is not with them. In 1901, the family was living at Garden Street in Cuerden Green and again the mother is not with them although between the two censuses she and William had had three children. Nor is she registered with them in 1911 by which time the family had moved to 2 Garfield Terrace, Lostock Hall and Elijah had joined his siblings working in the mill as a weaver. It appears Ellen suffered intermittently from mental health problems and was committed on a number of occasions to Whittingham County Asylum, where she died on 30 November 1915.
Elijah attempted to join the Army twice – the first time he was rejected on medical grounds but he tried again and was successful. Elijah signed his first attestation form on 1 September 1914. He was 5’ 2” tall, weighed 110lbs and had a 33” chest. Although, at 18yrs and 3mths he was just old enough to sign up (but not yet old enough to serve abroad), Elijah fell below the physical standards required (5’ 3” minimum height and 34” chest), and his form says he was judged not fit for service due to defective eyesight, except in A.O.C., R.A.M.C., R.A., and R.E.A.S.C. He was nevertheless allocated an initial service number 12995 but it appears he was not posted to any of these services. He came back three months later and on 6 January 1915 he enlisted with the Loyals and was given service number 3529 and posted to 2/4 Battalion where he joined “D” Company. As a Territorial, Elijah would not have been obliged to serve abroad but along with others he waived his right and agreed to serve abroad, signing the relevant form on 18 May 1915. In 1917 he received a new service number, 201181.
(Elijah is seen in the photograph, marked with an X, possibly with other members of “D” Coy in training, c. 1916. Photograph provided by Heather Crook).
Elijah was in training at home from 6 January 1915 to 5 July 1916. During training, he suffered a couple of minor ailments which required hospitalisation: synovitis (inflammation) of the knee, 28 Sep-1 Oct 1915; and scabies 26 June-12 July 1916, on the latter occasion at the Wessex Field Ambulance based at Canterbury. But his record also shows him embarking for France on 6 July 1916. There are two immediate problems that arise from the sequence of events re-constructed from his service records: firstly, that he was in hospital on the day he was supposed to have embarked for France but secondly, that 2/4Bn didn’t actually leave for France until 11/12 February 1917. His medal records, however, confirm that he was with 2/4Bn when he was killed so he either remained at home until February 1917, or he joined a different unit in the field in July 1916 and transferred to 2/4 at a later date. We’ll probably never know for sure.
In September 1917, the Battalion moved north to Boesinghe, just north of Ypres, where they went into the trenches on 24 October, as 57th Division prepared to make its contribution to the Second Battle of Passchendaele.
At 3.40 on the morning of 26 October the Battalion was formed up in its assembly position and moved off to attack at 5.40 and captured their immediate objectives (Mendling and Rubens farms) fairly quickly and with relatively light casualties. In the process, however, all four company commanders had become casualties. The centre of the attack was then held up by heavy fire from German pill boxes. The pill box was eventually taken and a more dominant position achieved, but further advance was impossible due to heavy German machine-gun fire from all sides. The Battalion captured 18 Germans and destroyed several enemy machine-guns. The ground advanced over was very bad, swampy and covered with shell holes. Elijah was killed in this attack. He was aged 21. His body was never recovered.
His medals and effects of £6 19s 10d plus £1 5s 8d and his War Gratuity of £13, were sent to his father in Lostock Hall, although he later moved to 28 Wright Street, Chorley.
Service No: 201181
Date of Death: 26/10/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment "D" Coy. 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 102 to 104.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL