Private Philip Holland


Philip Holland was born on 5 January 1889 at 17 Pitt Place, Belfast, the third of four children of labourer John Holland and his wife Agnes (née Hagan). His father died when he was just two years old.

Holland's military career began around 1906 when he joined the 4th Royal Irish Rifles militia. On 9 March 1907 he enlisted as a regular in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (No.8557).

His time with the Rifles was marked by a series of disciplinary breaches and misdemeanors. In August 1907 he was sentenced by a court martial to 21 days' detention for being absent; three months later a civil court gave him 2 months' imprisonment with hard labour for stealing a bicycle; in June 1909 a court martial awarded him 42 days' imprisonment with hard labour and a discharge with ignominy for desertion (the discharged was remitted); and in January 1910 a civil court sentenced him to 1 month's imprisonment with hard labour for stealing a bicycle. Following this last offence, on 1 February 1910, he was discharged from the army.

By the time of the 1911 Census, Holland was living at 45 Harland Street, Belfast, with his mother, a brother, half-sister and grandmother, and working as a general labourer. On 3 September that year he married Eleanor Russell at St Mark's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Dundela, Belfast. The couple had two children over the next three years. They lived at 5 Cable Street, and Holland found work at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard as a plater's helper.

On 13 August 1914 at Belfast, Holland enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1005 – later Corps of Hussars No.71195). Just seven days later he embarked for France with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

Holland suffered a series of illnesses through 1915. On 18 November he was posted to A Squadron. Soon after, however, he was evacuated to the UK suffering from hemorrhoids. Through 1916 he spent periods in hospital in Belfast and serving at the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim. His time at Antrim was marked by further disciplinary breaches, all relating to short absences from duty.

On 4 March 1917 Holland embarked once again for France, where he was posted to A Squadron, which by then was one of the three squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. Holland, who had once again been sick in hospital, was transferred to the 9th Battalion on 24 October (No.41636). Two weeks later he joined the battalion in the field at Ruyaulcout and was posted to C Company.

For some reason, however, within weeks Holland was transferred back to the North Irish Horse, where on 12 December 1917 he rejoined A Squadron. He probably saw action that month during the last days of the Battle of Cambrai.

In February-March 1918 the 1st NIH Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war. Holland would have seen action during the German spring offensive in March 1918 and during the early phases of the Advance to Victory offensive in August and September. On 7 September, however, he fell ill with myalgia. Evacuated to the UK, he was treated at the 1st Birmingham War Hospital at Rednal then the UVF Hospital in Belfast. On 20 December 1918 he was discharged and reported for duty at the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim.

On 4 March 1919 Holland was discharged as 'surplus to military requirements, having suffered impairment since entry into the service (paragraph 392 xvi(a), King's Regulations). He had earlier applied for a disability pension, as:

I am suffering from weakness in my back and legs and generally in ill health, caused through exposure on active service and a serious attack of Myalgia in Sept. 1918.

His disability was assessed at 40 per cent and the pension was granted.

Holland emigrated to Canada in 1921 and settled in British Columbia, where he died on 20 February 1979.