Lieutenant Douglas William Holmes

Regiment:  98 Squadron RAF
Service no:         
Date and place of birth:  5 August 1899 in St Pancras, London
Date and place of death:  30 October 1918

 Family background

Douglas William Holmes was the son of William Metcalf Holmes and his wife Hannah, who had married on 7 November 1891 in Purley, Surrey.

He was born on 5 August and was baptised 22 October 1899 at St Andrew’s, Haverstock Hill. Their address at that date was the Orphan Working School and the father’s profession given as teacher.

In 1901 William Metcalf Holmes (34), teacher, was heading a household at The Orphan Working School in Kentish Town, St Pancras, London. With him were Hannah Holmes (32) and their sons: George Barker (8), Ronald John (6), and Douglas William (1). Also listed were Emma Louisa Barker (20), sister in law, Sarah Mildred Kent (18), servant, Alexander McVea (33), teacher, John Collins (39), teacher, Harry Williams (33), teacher, John Thornley (33), teacher, Walter Brown (20), teacher, together with other named staff and pupils.

In 1911 Douglas William was 11 and living with his parents: William Metcalf Holmes (44), superintendent, mentally deficient boys’ home, Hannah Holmes (42), matron, and two brothers George Barker (18), marine engineer apprentice, and Ronald John (16). Both boys were at school. The address given was 50 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW.

Midhurst Grammar School Pupil Admissions 1903 – 1916 records Douglas William Holmes, son of W M Holmes, headmaster of Duncton School, being admitted to the school on 27 September 1909 and leaving to take up engineering on 18 December 1914.

On the pupil admission it stated he lived in ‘the school house’, however, their home address continued to be 50 Acre Lane on documentary records.

Douglas William Holmes was working as an engineering apprentice from September 1916 to July 1917 with Albany Engineering Company at 80 Ossay Road, Old Kent Road, London SE.

Military service

Douglas William Holmes
Douglas William Holmes in 1918

Lieutenant Douglas William Holmes enlisted and joined the newly formed Royal Air Force.

He was passed ‘fit as a pilot’ on 28 August 1917.

In January 1918 he was made a 2nd Lieutenant. The appointment was announced in the London Gazette dated 1 April 1918. Confirmation of his position of flight officer was posted in the London Gazette dated 10 May 1918.

He was serving in Egypt but was recalled to the UK in July 1918 to report to No 3 Flying School. In September it was recorded that Lieutenant Holmes was being transferred to the British Expeditionary Force on 4 October 1918 as a pilot in 98 Squadron.

He reported for duty on 11 October and was reported ‘missing, presumed dead’ on 30 October 1918.

98 Squadron was raised as a Bomber Squadron in August 1917 and was initially based in Lancashire, before moving to Old Sarum and mobilisation to the Front in April 1918, where it was active until March 1919.

The planes used were Aero De Haviland 9 bi-planes

Following the Armistice the Squadron was employed in reconnaissance before returning to England on 20 March 1919. It was disbanded four days later.

During its time in France the Squadron destroyed 40 enemy aircraft, 35 ‘driven out of control’ and four ‘driven down’. Thirteen of the Squadron were shot down over enemy territory, ten crash landed in allied territory, thirty one were damaged or destroyed and thirteen declared missing. Nineteen men were killed in action, twenty two reported missing, fourteen wounded, thirteen injured in crashes, sixteen taken prisoner and three ‘accidently killed’.

Death and commemoration

Douglas William Holmes is listed on the Board in Midhurst Rother College.

He is buried in Quievrain Communal Cemetery, grave A 37. He shares a grave with his 2nd Lieutenant, J E Prosser

Subsequent family history

George Barker Holmes married Elsie Phyllis Black on 11 June 1921 in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Ronald J Holmes died in 1918 in Lambeth, London. He was 23 years of age.

George Barker Holmes died 16 March 1937 at Elsdorferbenge, near Esch Germany. His home address at that time was 3 Stafford Court, Stafford Road, Waddon, Croydon. Probate was granted to Elsie Phyllis Holmes, widow and John Coling, printers manager.

William Metcalf Holmes died 5 July 1938. His address at that time was 33, Benhill Wood Road, Sutton, Surrey. Probate was granted to Hannah Holmes, widow.

Hannah Holmes, of the same address, died 18 November 1940 at 25 Brunswick Road, Sutton. Probate was granted to Westminster Bank Ltd and Elsie Phyllis Holmes, widow.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project