Clifford Dawson HOLLIDAY

Regimental number4801
Place of birthKogarah, New South Wales
AddressKelvin Lynn, William Street, Hornsby, Sydney, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation20
Height5' 9"
Weight170 lbs
Next of kinFather, Rev Andrew Holliday, Kelvin Lynn, William Street, Hornsby, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed in the Sydney University Scouts; still serving at time of AIF enlistment.
Enlistment date31 August 1915
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name2nd Battalion, 15th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/19/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A15 Star of England on 8 March 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll54th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 20 July 1916
Place of burialFromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery (Plot I, Row E, Grave No 7), France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Joined 54th Bn, Ferry Post, 20 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Wounded in action, 20 July 1916.

Name extracted from list of dead whose pay books were handed to German authorities by Geneva Red Cross; ruled as killed in action, 20 July 1916 by the Assistant Adjutant General, ANZAC Section, 3rd Echelon, General Headquarters, 24 November 1916.

A statement made by an unnamed witness on 22 July 1916 stated, 'I saw this man [Private Holliday] badly wounded in the chest trying to get over the German parapet of the first line that we took when we had orders to retire, and all the wounded were trying to crawl back. I do not think he could possibly have managed it, as I had great difficulty with my wound, and he was bleeding very much in the chest when I saw him. I give this account in case Pte Holliday is reported missing.'

In October 1916 Reverend Holliday, the father of Private Holliday, wrote to a Major Lean with the following information, 'I am copying an extract of a letter received by a Mr Stevens ... from 4882 Sergt Frank Small ... in reference to our lad [Pte Holliday]. It is as follows: "after hanging on all night (19 July) and fighting alongside my old mate Clifford Dawson Holliday, he got badly hit in the mouth, so I carried him along to the wounded station in the German trench, put a blanket down for him, and left him in charge of young Atkinson of 'A' Co who was looking after them, and went inquest of a stretcher bearer. I saw a stretcher bearer I knew up at the field clearing station and was going off with him to bring in Holliday when I was ordered into the dressing station by a medical officer who went another bearer in my place for Holliday and sent me off ... to 15 dressing station to get my hand and arm attended to." I may state this is the only news we have been able to obtain regarding our son ... '. Further information from Sergeant Small came to light in a letter written by L. H. Hetheriust to Mr Hughes on 8 March 1917 asked, 'would you as a great favour do your very best to find Clifford Holliday 4801 [who was] left at [the] mouth of communications trench after the battle of Pozieres - France- on 20 July last - by Frank Small. Clifford Holliday could walk and talk to Frank Small his way to [the] communication trench - although he was shot in the mouth'.

A fuller version of this information from Sergeant Small - information in which Small contradicts his early letter - was in a letter from Small to Reverend Holliday dated 30 November 1916, and was quoted by Reverend Holliday in a letter to Major Lean, Base Records, 1 October 1917. It stated, 'Bobby was alongside me when he was hit by a piece of shrapnel in the cheek. I bound it up well with a field dressing and my handkerchief and do not consider it was a serious knock at all for except for shock he could walk quite well with my assistance we went along to where the wounded were collected in the enemy front line at that stage[.] There was no hope of getting along the communications trench so I made him comfortable alongside our Captains (sic) dugout and returned to my post, nothing doubted me he did not get back with the other wounded, however I he did not I think it most probable he is a prisoner of war ... ' Later in the letter Reverend Holliday does also assert, 'I ought to point out that my son was placed near Captain Hanson's dugout and the Captain knew him, also the Captain certainly got across to the Australian lines and if I am correctly informed[,] is reported to have said to the best of his knowledge all the wounded in that reception station were taken out, but of course that may not be correct.'

In a subsequent letter written by Reverend Holliday to Major Lean on 10 November 1916, Reverend Holliday further asserted, 'I desire to report that I have interviewed several returned soldiers concerning my son. One of them Pte J. Steel No 4890 of 30 Allen St Leichhardt says he saw him wounded in the mouth, on the battlefield, but to best of his knowledge not seriously. He also states that whilst he was in a dressing station about a mile or a mile and a half behind the line a comrade of my son's called Smith was brought into the Station mortally wounded but quite conscious and Steel asked Smith who was brought in with you into the station and Smith replied Bob (my son was known amongst his comrades as Bob). Smith was asked Bob who? replied "why Bob Holliday, don't you know him? He is wounded in the mouth." I may state that both Steel and Smith had been in Liverpool Camp with my son, went with him in the same transport, went through Egypt with him and hence know him well. Steel further states he did not see Bob because they were placed in different hospitals, but he is confident he should be well again by now and thinks there must be some mistake in that we have had no letters from him.'

In a letter to the Commandant, A.I.F Headquarters, London, an extract of a letter by Corporal John Henderson Pollock, No. 4864, A Company, 54th Bn was quoted and stated, 'I received your letter of Oct. 16th. There is a very interesting part in this about the "Bob" Holliday you are enquiring for. Well I should think I do know this chap he was a Sergt. with me and I know quite a lot about him - he went across in the same attack as I did, not at Pozieres but at Fromelles, we took three lines of trenches but owing to our flanks being unable to hold out we had to get [out] for our lives. Bob was shot through the face but when last seen [was] alive, but completely out of action[,] he was seen and spoken to by one of our chaps[,] when we were forced to retire he was in the original front line of German trenches and was certainly left behind when had to clear out.'

Translation of German message, 28 October 1919, 'pay book was handed over by Intelli. Officer of 6th Army Head Qrs. Dead - 17/8/16. 2nd Card. Gives rank as Sergeant ... Australian Soldier C.D. Holliday (Pte) Sergeant, 54th Battalion, b. Coy, Iden. Disc 4801, fell in the neighbourhood of Fromelles on 19/7/16.'

Red Cross File No 1360114 has statement from 4804 Pte R.G. HUGHES, 54th Bn (patient, 3rd Southern General Hospital, Town Hall, Oxford), 9 November 1916: 'I saw Clifford Dawson Holliday ... hit in the face on the morning of July 20th. We were in the trench which we had taken from the Germans the evening before, but we lost it again that morning. When Pte Holliday was wounded he fell back in the trench, and he was led away by Sergt. Frank Small (also slightly wounded) who happened to be near him at the time. We never saw either of them again. Quite soon after they left us we had to retire back to our original front line.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Originally listed as 'No Known Grave' and commemorated at V.C. Corner (Panel No 10), Australian Cemetery, Fromelles; subsequently (2010) identified, and interred in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, France.
Miscellaneous detailsFather's address subsequently 'St Duthies', Sisters Crescent, Drummoyne, New South Wales; then 2 Thompson Street, Drummoyne, New South Wales.
SourcesNAA: B2455, HOLLIDAY Clifford Dawson
Red Cross file 1360114