Private William Holmes



William Holmes was born on 20 January 1899 at Ballybogan, Lifford, County Donegal, the fourth of six children of farmer (later a magistrate) William Holmes and his wife Mary Ann (nee Brooks). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballybogan with his parents and four siblings.

Holmes enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 1916 and 1918 (regimental number unknown at present). He remained at the regimental reserve depot at Antrim until demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, in 1919.

After the war Holmes emigrated to New Zealand with two North Irish Horse comrades, George Ferris and Arthur McGookin. They sailed from Southampton on 18 February 1921 on board the Waimana – Holmes listed on the ship's register as a farmer.

In 1924 Holmes married Letitia Mary Patterson. He died at Christchurch, New Zealand, on 14 August 1968.


Private Holmes's older brother Charles, an employee of the Belfast Bank, served in the war as a lieutenant with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was wounded at least twice, and in 1918, while serving with the 12th Battalion, was awarded a Military Cross and Bar.


Lieutenant Charles Holmes


Image of William Holmes reproduced with kind permission of Holmes's nephew James McCauley. Image of Charles Holmes sourced from Gavin Bamford's site honouring the officials of the Northern Bank and Belfast Bank who served during the two World Wars and in more recent conflicts.