Armistice 100: The Great War and the Holmans

November 11th 2018 by Guy Boocock

Like many companies in the milling industry, Holmans Millwrights of Canterbury had men enlist in the First World War. Those who faced active service had to go. However, Holmans negotiated with the War Office by offering the company for munitions work as a means to retain those who were called up for munitions work and to keep the company going.
Poster Image

Geoff Holman began research into those who served during 1914-1918, and I continued his research and found some of the men who didn’t come back.

Geoff discovered a letter (source unknown) dated 1 February 1916 in which he writes to the Ministry of Munitions listing amongst the men those who had left for military service.  Those identified were:

  • Robert Gordon Barber
  • G. Francis
  • George Edward Uden – 63816 Private
  • Albert Edward Whittingstall - M2/081486 Private
  • William Edward Bromley - 2330 Private
  • T. Rowland

George Edward Uden was an undersmith in 1914.  He served in the The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment).  His service record doesn’t appear to survive but the Canterbury War Memorial lists his name, and the CWGC database states he was killed on 18 August 1918 and ‘Remembered with Honour’ at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Albert Edward Whittingstall was an Engineer’s Fitter in 1911. He signed up for active service with the 621 MT Company, Royal Army Service Corps on 3 May 1915. He was discharged on 25 April 1917 having been declared 'physically unfit' suffering from general paralysis from the stress of the campaign. His pension records state he was in the Canterbury Mental Hospital in late 1917. He died on 21 May 1918 aged 36.

William Edward Bromley was a machinist, and had followed his father Edward, a boiler riveter, into the firm. He served in the 'A' Company, 1st/4th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), and was killed in action on 25 September 1915 aged 21. He is 'Remembered with Honour' at Maali Cemetery, Aden Harbour, Yemen.

These three men are remembered on the Canterbury War Memorial. You can read more about the Holman staff during the wars here.

To all the men who served, sacrificed, and changed our world, Thank You. We at The Mills Archive Remember Them.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.