"Shrieks of agony and groans all around me... All about me are bits of men and ghastly mixtures of cloth and blood."
-Anthony R. Hossack, British soldier
Thomas Holland was the son of Alfred and Avis Jane Holland of 7 Linden Square , Riverhead and he was born on 13th November 1898.
He had three brothers George, Samson and Jack and two sisters Avis Jane and Mabel. He was the fourth of the five soldiers on the Riverhead Memorial to die during the Somme offensive (July to November 1916). It is not known why he ended up in the South Staffordshire Regiment. A photograph (below right), provided by one of his descendants, David Pelham, is believed to be of Thomas and shows him in the uniform of the Royal Army Medical Corps. That is a mystery that may never be solved.
The Battle of Le Transloy had commenced on 1st October 1916.
However, the Battalion diary for the 5th South Staffs, that day, records nothing more than "a very quiet day". Thomas was one of the four soldiers listed on the Memorial who made an informal military Will and it is dated July 4th 1916. In it he leaves everything to his Mother, "Mrs Holland of Lucerne House, Linden Square, Riverhead, Kent". In 1917 the War Office confirmed its status under the Wills Act 1837 as being valid - having been made while on active service. The document certifying the Will's validity states that Thomas died:
"from illness due to exposure on active service in France"
He was just 17 years old.