No.9721, Private, John HOLDER
Aged 31

5th Battalion, Duke of Edinburgh's (Wiltshire Regiment)
Killed in Action on Thursday, 29th March 1917

John Holder was born in Aldenham, Herts (Watford Q1-1887 3A:551), baptised in Elstree on 13th March 1887, son of Frederick Prentice and Elizabeth HOLDER (née HALLS).

1891 census...Aged 4, he was at Elstree Hill, Elstree withhis father Frederick HOLDER [35] police constable, born Bury St.Edmunds; his mother Elizabeth [39] born Bardwell; sisters Alice [11] born Mitcham, Surrey and Annie [6] born Letchmore Heath, Herts; brother William [2] born Elstree.

1901 census...Aged 14, an errand boy, he was at School Lane, Bardwell with his parents and brother William (errand boy).

His mother died in 1901 and father remarried, to Margaret MARKHAM in 1903

1911 census...Aged 23, he was a draper's assistant boarding at 119 -149 City Road, Shoreditch, London (seemingly an accommodation for 60 persons). His father now a retired policeman was still in Bardwell with 2nd wife Margaret [58] born Bardwell.

His sole legatee was Mrs Gladys L TAYLOR.

He enlisted in London, while resident at Hither Green, London SE, around August 1914.

The 5th Battalion war diary:-
Mesopotamia, Palm Tree Post - At 2.30a.m Battalion with first line transport moved forward to rendezvous at Railway Stn. thence along NAHRWAN CANAL to point of assembly in Canal about 3800 yds south of enemy's advance position. Patrols sent forward located deep nullah 1400 yds north to which the Battalion advanced in good order under shell fire. At 9a.m the Battalion moved forward to the attack and immediately came under heavy enfilade shell Machine Gun and rifle fire. In spite of this, however, the advance pushed forward in masterly style until finally held up about 1300yds from enemy position driving in their advanced troops. Our casualties were heavy owing to the entire absence of cover. Officers killed 2Lt C.T. BISHOP. Wounded Capt. E. F. BROWN, Lts E.L. HARRISON, W.T. WRIGLEY, J.M. DODINGTON. 2nd Lts. L.B.F. O'BRIEN, E.A.D. PARRY, W.H. RANDALL. Other ranks Killed 27. Wounded 132. Message from Brig Gen LEWIN C.B.,C.M.G., D.S.O. received "Well done Wilts your advance was magnificent." The enemy evacuated his whole position during the night.

The Bury Free Press on 21st April 1917 reported:-

This week we have to record the loss of another Bardwell boy, which makes the 12th from this village who have given their lives for King and country.This time it is the eldest son of Mr. Fredk. P.Holder, of The Street, who has fallen. Prvt J.Holder, of the 5th Batt. Wiltshire Regiment is officially reported killed in action on the Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia, on the 29th March.The deceased was, previous to the outbreak of war, employed at DawsonBros,City Road, but upon the call for more men, he volunteered and enlisted about six months after the war was declared.After some time spent in training, he was drafted with those who took part in the Dardanelles Expedition, and was for sixmonths reported missing there.He was 30 years of age....

Basra memorial before it was moved by Saddam Hussein

John Holder is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, panel 30 and 64

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details