Machine­gun­ner who beat the odds

JAMES HOL­LAND Great-great-grand­fa­ther of Jemma Hol­land

The Sunday Times - - ARMISTICE DAY CENTENARY -

Machine­gun­ner James Hol­land sur­vived both Gal­lipoli and the

Western Front — an in­cred­i­ble feat given the aver­age life ex­pectancy for those fill­ing his role in bat­tle was just 30 sec­onds.

Born in Crewe, Eng­land,

Hol­land moved to Aus­tralia in

1911, along with his older brother

Charles. He en­listed in Perth in March 1915 as a 23-year-old. Af­ter ini­tially be­ing placed with the 28th Bat­tal­ion as an in­fantry solider, he later joined the 7th Machine­gun Com­pany and spent time train­ing in Egypt.

He ar­rived on the Gal­lipoli penin­sula on Septem­ber 10, 1915, and es­caped ma­jor in­jury dur­ing his time in Turkey. In March 1916 Hol­land found him­self on the Western Front, where he was twice buried alive by shell­fire, dug out and went straight back to fir­ing his machine­gun.

Be­fore com­ing to Aus­tralia, Hol­land had fallen in love with Dorothy Light­foot, whom he worked along­side in Crewe.

The pair kept in touch through­out Hol­land’s time in the war and he re­turned to Eng­land af­ter he was dis­charged, where they wed in 1919. She then ac­com­pa­nied him back to Perth on a ship full of war brides.

Hol­land played lawn bowls and en­joyed long walks well into his twi­light years be­fore pass­ing away in his 90s.

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