Machinegunner who beat the odds
JAMES HOLLAND Great-great-grandfather of Jemma Holland
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.