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22nd Battalion 2NZEF
"Vrai et Fort"
6839 Private Ian Sutherland Gordon HOLMS
27 August 1913 - 27 October 1940
Private Ian Holms was one of the "originals" of the 22 Battalion. He was born in Featherston in 1913, and as with many from the Wairarapa area he enlisted early and was posted to the 22 Battalion. He sailed with the battalion in early 1940 and followed its fortunes in England, eventually being billeted with the rest of A Company at Greenway Court, a farm house and outbuildings near Hollingbourne, Kent. The Battalion Diary records the place as "..Just an ordinary everyday farmhouse surrounded by the usual, yet typical, Kentish outbuildings... Its old disused oasthouse and stable housed two platoons...".
But on the night of 27 October 1940 all that changed. As the Battalion's Official History records:
"On the night of 27-28 October a bomber jettisons its bombs: one man killed, Private Ian Holms, the battalion's first death from enemy action, and three wounded in A Company."
Thus Pvte Ian HOLMS has the honour of becoming the Battalion's first casualty of the war caused by enemy action. The incident causing his death was recorded in the Battalion's War Diary, and in the Routine Orders.
Burial at Maidstone Cemetery
The village of Hollingbourne is a few miles NE of Maidstone. At the rear of the General Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves section, where Ian HOLMS and several other New Zealanders are buried. With war graves, the CWGC often relocated burials after the war, moving bodies from where they had been buried into a new, purpose built cemetery. This was usually the case for burials near the front line. However in Ian Homs' case, it appears that he was buried at Maidstone at the time of his death. Today the CWGC Section is neat and well tended, a fitting tribute to the New Zealanders and other soldiers buried there.
In October 1940, Ian's younger brother, SGT Bob HOLMS of the Divisional Cavalry, was stationed nearby and he was able to attend Ian's burial. He took photos of the service which he sent home to their parents.
Maidstone Cemetery today
All Saints Church, Hollingbourne
Private Holms and the 22 Battalion are also recorded at All Saints Church, Hollingbourne, where the Battalion regulared attended Church Parade.
Last updated: 22/02/2012