Remembrance 2020 (5)
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
A short series of blogs about Stockport men
5. Maurice Robert Holliday of Reddish
Maurice Robert Holliday was born in Clapham in 1892, the third of five children born to Clifford Harry Holliday and his second wife Elizabeth Emma Powell. (Clifford’s first wife died at the age of 32 and there were no children from this marriage.) Clifford was a sales representative for books and stationery, and his job was possibly the reason why the family relocated to Reddish when Maurice was a child.
The 1911 census records Maurice living with the rest of the family in Tindall Street and gives his occupation as a warehouse clerk, but he subsequently became a ship’s steward and at the outbreak of war was working on the ill-fated Cunard cruise liner, RMS Lusitania. He left the Lusitania to enlist, joining the 21st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (the sixth “Pals” regiment) on 17 January 1915, four months before his former ship was sunk off the Irish coast by a German U-boat.
After training, Maurice was drafted to France on 10 November 1915 and moved up to the Western Front at the end of December. In the Spring of 1916 the battalion was based at Mametz near Fricourt, where Maurice suffered a major injury to his spine on 10 March 1916. His service record has not survived, so we have few details of the following days and weeks, but once he had been brought to the Regimental Aid Post and given basic first aid and pain relief, he would have been taken in charge by a field ambulance (a mobile medical unit manned by the Royal Army Medical Corps) and taken to an Advanced Dressing Station close behind the lines and then further back to a Casualty Clearing Station. Once stabilised, serious casualties like Maurice were evacuated to a base hospital by road, rail or even by canal barge, often involving a long and painful journey.
In due time Maurice was invalided back to England, where he was treated in the King George Military Hospital in London. His family may have been able to visit him there, but it must have been a long and complicated journey from Reddish in wartime: it is very unlikely that Maurice’s condition allowed him to leave the hospital for even a short period.
In the end, Maurice’s injuries proved too serious to overcome and he died in hospital on 6 December 1916, nearly nine months after being hit on the battlefield. The death notice placed by the family in the Manchester Evening News reads poignantly “After great suffering, rest”.
Maurice’s body was transported back to Stockport and he was buried in Willow Grove Cemetery with military honours.
My WWI website is dedicated to all First World War servicemen from the Heatons and Reddish: the survivors as well as the casualties.