A large family celebrates the armistice in London, England.
“Let the men dress in women’s clothes and the women in men’s!” was the cheery shout that went out as the family of Alfred and Alice Hollands prepared for this photograph at their home near Plumstead Common in London, England. They were celebrating the end of the First World War on November 11, 1918.
In 1920 the Hollands emigrated to Canada, and they were soon living in St. Catharines, Ontario, where they thrived. However, less than twenty years later, George Hollands, the youngest of the family and front and centre in the photo, was back in England. He was there helping his new country defend the country of his birth, as the Second World War had broken out in 1939.
George volunteered in the Canadian Army in 1940, enlisting in the Royal Canadian Engineers in Hamilton, and was sent overseas soon after. He crossed the English Channel on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and fought with his fellow soldiers through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany.
At the war’s end in 1945, he returned to Canada to be greeted warmly by his family (except for his father, who had passed away during the war). Most especially, he was greeted by his wife, Doris, and by his four children.
A proud Canadian, George went on to establish a dry-cleaning business in the St. Catharines area and served as president of two local Legions, before he died in 1994. In 2001 his children submitted his name to the Juno Beach Association, and now a brick bearing his name and record overlooks Juno Beach, France, where he landed on D-Day.
George was adopted into the Hollands family, along with other children, after his birth mother died. Other members of the Hollands family who appear in this photo are, from left to right, George’s brother Alfred, sister May, birth sister Rose, brother Leslie, parents Alice and Alfred, sister Alice, stepsister Alice (yes, two girls named Alice!), and birth brother William.
In this photo the Hollands family was celebrating the end of one war, but it was not really the end of the fighting — because, as some historians remind us, the two world wars were parts of one conflict. Too young to serve in the first war, young George went on to do his part in the second. Submitted by Kenneth (Terry) Hollands of Kitchener, Ontario, the son of George Hollands, as approved by George’s daughters Patricia Fortura, Carol Roach, and Beverly Cook.