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William Holmes (1862–1917)

William Holmes, c1917

William Holmes, c1917

Australian War Memorial, 133440

Captain Arthur Holmes, of Manly, received information last night that his brother, Major General William Holmes, commander of the Fourth Australian Division in Europe, had been killed in action on July 2.

The late Major-General William Holmes, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., was born on September 12, 1862. A native of Sydney, he took to volunteering at an early age, and had his first commission as second-lieutenant early in 1886. He was a lieutenant in 1890, captain in 1894, major in 1900. In 1902 he attained to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was made colonel in 1912. Towards the end of 1912 the deceased officer, then Brigadier-General, was awarded the Order of St. Anne of Russia. In January of this year his elevation to the rank of major-general was gazetted.

The Major-General played a prominent part in the South African War. These experiences covered the operations in Cape Colony, south of Orange River, 1899-1900 (including actions at Colesberg), advance on Kimberley, operations in Orange Free State, February to May, 1900 (including actions at Houtnek, Vet River, May 5 and 6), and Hand River; operations in the Transvaal in May and June, 1900, including actions near Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Diamond Hill, June 11 and 12, 1900. During the South African War he was wounded and mentioned in despatches. He was also awarded the Queen's Medal, with four clasps. After the outbreak of the present war the Australian officer figured prominently in the capture of German New Guinea, acting for a time as Administrator of the colony. On the return to Sydney he went to the front, and there distinguished himself. His promotion to the rank of major-general was a proof sufficient in itself of the high opinion formed of him by the military authorities as a leader of men. The honours which were won by the Major-General, including Companion of St. Michael and St. George, the Distinguished Service Order, and the V.D.

In private life the Major-General was secretary of the Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage in Sydney.

Major-General Holmes was a widower, his wife having predeceased him by some years, and he had one son and one daughter. The former, Major Basil Holmes, was serving with him in France, and his daughter, who now resides at Neutral Bay, is the wife of Colonel J. Travers, who commands an infantry battalion in France. Major-General Holmes was a son of Captain William Holmes, of the general staff, New South Wales Military Forces, who died in 1894, and there survive four brothers and four sisters, the former being Captain Arthur Holmes, who retired on his rank after 20 years' service on the administration and instruction staff, and now resident at Manly; Corporal H. Holmes, now in France; Mr. F. Holmes, of Hunter's Hill; and Mr. G. Holmes, of Balmain.

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Citation details

'Holmes, William (1862–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 July 2024.

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