Charles Cecil Holtom (1885-1917)

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This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.

Biography

Charles Cecil Holtom was the son of Dr. and Mrs. C. J. Holtom, of London.

That a doctor's son, born in London and married in Bradford should be on St. Stephen's church memorial may seem very improbable.

Charles Cecil was born on 23 March 1885, when his father, Charles John Holtom, a medical student in London, and mother Florence Caroline, lived at 14 Edward Street, off Hampstead Road in the Parish of St. Pancras, Camden, London. On 15 June Charles was baptised at the parish church.

After that we briefly lose track of the family. Charles Snr was practising as a doctor in Bradford in the 1890s and lived at Denton Villa, in Eccleshill just outside Bradford (now very much part of the city).

Charles Cecil married Helena Kathleen Casey a twenty-one-year old born in New South Wales, Australia, at St. Jude's, Manningham on 26 March 1910. Helena gave her address as West par Road, Kew Gardens in London. Charles said he lived at Hanover Square, presumably the square in Bradford. This was probably where Dr. and Mrs Holtom. were living at that time.

By this time Charles Cecil was working as a bank cashier. The couple moved into a house on Leamington Street, Manningham not that far from St. Judes. Although "bank cashier" cannot have been a very highly paid job, 26 Leamington Street boasted eight rooms and they could afford to employ a domestic servant, nineteen-year-old Martha Boag, born in Newmarket.

The couple must have been living in Huddersfield when, towards the end of 1913 the couple had a daughter, Eileen. By the time he enlisted in the army, Charles was a lecturer in "practical banking" at Huddersfield Technical College and lived at Victoria Cottage, Lindley. A theatre lover, Charles was made honorary secretary of the Huddersfield Playgoers Society in September 1914 having previously been secretary of the Bradford society,

Following the outbreak of war, Charles seems to have served in the local military training corps, the volunteer organisation for those not then able to serve. The No. 1 Company, of thirty-one men, drilled at Acre Mills.

We do not know the exact date of his enlistment but we do know Charles initially served in the West Yorkshire Regiment, probably as a private soldier. He was promoted 2nd Lieutenant from 19 May 1915 and may have served with the machine gun section of the regiment. Eventually these sections were turned into independent companies. The 161st Machine Gun Company was formed on 23 April 1916, as part of the 54th (East Anglian) Division, although Charles could have served in other sections before. However, this division was sent to the Middle East serving first in Gallipoli in August 1915 and the 9th Battalion of the West Yorks were there.

The new Machine Gun Company was formed and the division moved on to Suez and Palestine. The West Yorks went to France.

The 161st Company was involved in the battle to capture Beersheba in Palestine along with the Australians, from the Turks. Beersheba fell to Empire forces on 31 October 1917, the day Charles was killed. The Beersheba War Cemetery was begun that day and by July 1918 contained 139 graves.

By the 1920s, Dr. Holtom and his wife were living in London and an address in West Kensington. 10 Talgarth Road, was given for Helena Holtom. However, the first address the army had after the war was in Pevensy Bay, Sussex.

Charles is remembered on the memorial in St Stephen's.

Helena seems to have re-married in Croydon, Surrey in 1931.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

HOLTOM, CHARLES CECIL. Lieutenant. 181st Company, Machine Gun Corps. Son of Doctor and Mrs C. J. Holtom of London. Husband of H. K. Holtom, of Victoria Cottage, Lindley. Was honorary secretary of the Huddersfield Playgoers' Society. Killed in action in Israel, 31.10.1917, aged 32 years. Buried BEERSHEBA WAR CEMETERY, ISRAEL. Grave location:- Row P, Grave 69.
ROH:- St. Stephen's Church, Lindley.

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