John Holden

John Holden  MM


     John Holden came to Canada in the year 1908, settling first in Toronto and then Port Hope the same year. John was choirmaster at St. John's Church, Port Hope, and a valued member of the Port Hope Band. He was employed until enlistment at the Standard Ideal Company as a molder.

     Having seen service in the Boer War, where he won the Queen Victoria Silver Medal and the St. John's Ambulance Bronze Medal, he enlisted with the 21st Battalion, C.E.F., as a private and on arriving overseas was immediately transferred to the Army Medical Corps. Afterwards he joined his own regiment, taking charge of the stretcher bearers and medical supplies. He was employed as a field dresser at the advance dressing station.

     It was while dressing wounds during the advance at Marcelcave on the Amiens front that Corporal Holden met his death. The deed of merit for which he won the Military Medal is thus officially stated in the Military Gazette of London, England, dated 19 November 1917:- "On August 15-18, 1917. For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. On four different occasions this N.C.O. went out and carried in wounded on his back. Later on, being alone and unable to get the wounded in, he organized a party of the enemy, and under his direction they were enabled to evacuate the wounded. All of this work was under heavy shell fire and at a time when every available man had been taken to drive off a counterattack. This N.C.O.'s work throughout the operation, lasting four days, was characterized by cheerfulness, sympathy and a total disregard of self." His body lies at Marcelcave, France.


Photo and text above reproduced with permission

The above is taken from the "Book of Remembrance (A record of the men of Port Hope who participated in the Great War of 1914-1918)" by James A. Elliott, Chairman of Committee, Port Hope, Jan. 1st, 1919.


Standing L-R Albert Gloyne   and William Redburn
Seated L-R John Holden  and Charles Gloyne


Summary of Service Record




Sep 22, 1876

Born at Preston, Lancashire, England


Nov 11, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      Number 50429

o       Note that there is some confusion in the record as to whether he attested into the CAMC (Canadian Army Medical Corps) or the 21st Battalion.  He was initially given the number 434, but in April of 1915 that was changed to 373, then in May of 1915 it was changed to 59471 on arrival in England.  Immediately following that it was again changed, this time to the final number of 50429, which is in the series of numbers assigned to the CAMC.  It appears that when this happened, he was attached to the 21st Battalion as a stretcher bearer.

o       To further confuse the issue, the medical form which is dated Nov 11, 1914, clearly shows his unit as the CAMC, and his number 50429, but having transferred from the 21st Battalion.

o       His pay record shows him being paid by the 21st Battalion from Nov 11, 1914 right up until May 1915, and indicates that he is a member of the Base Unit of the 21st Battalion.

Ø      Next of kin given as Elizabeth A Holden (wife) of Port Hope Ontario

o       This address was later changed to 225 St Paul’s Road, Preston, Lancashire, England

Ø      Previous occupation given as Moulder

Ø      Previous military experience given as being in the Royal Ambulance Brigade in the South African War

Ø      Religion given as Church of England


May 1, 1915

Pay sheet indicates that he is a member of the Headquarters Company of 21st Battalion


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama at Montreal Quebec



May 15, 1915

Disembarked at Devonport England and proceeded to West Sandling Camp, near Hythe, Kent


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked the St Seiriol at Folkstone for France


Sep 15, 1915

Disembarked at Boulogne France


Jan 31, 1916

Granted 9 days leave in England


Feb 10, 1916

Rejoined battalion from leave


Jul 15, 1916

Is transferred to the 21st Battalion from the CAMC


Aug 17, 1916

Promoted to rank of Corporal to replace Cpl Clifford, 59170, who reverted to the rank of Pte.


Sep 15, 1916

Admitted to No 9 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) with a shrapnel wound to the neck, then transferred to No 44 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station)


Sep 16, 1916

Transferred via AT 16 (Ambulance Transport) and admitted to No 8 Stationary Hospital at Wimereux


Sep 18, 1916

Transferred to No 1 Convalescent Depot at Boulogne


Sep 21, 1916

Discharged from hospital to CBD (Convalescent Base Details)


Sep 23, 1916

Last Will and Testament made out leaving entire estate to his wife.


Oct 1, 1916

Left CBD to join the 2nd Entrenching Battalion in the field


Oct 4, 1916

Joined 2nd Entrenching Battalion


Oct 5, 1916

Left 2nd Entrenching Battalion to join unit


Oct 6, 1916

Joined the 21st Battalion in the field


Jul 5, 1917

Granted 10 days leave


Jul 18, 1917

Rejoined unit from leave


Nov 19, 1917             Awarded the Military Medal as per London Gazette #30367



Feb 13, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Feb 28, 1918

Rejoined unit from leave


Aug 8, 1918

Corporal John Holden was killed during the battalion's capture of Marcelcave, France  and was buried in the Midway Corner Cemetery, north west of Marcelcave.  Thank you Philippe Gruit for assisting in finding location of this now empty cemetery.


When the war ended the Midway Corner Cemetery was emptied and John Holden's remains were exhumed and reburied in the Villers-Bretenneux Military Cemetery

He is also honoured on the Port Hope, Ontario War Memorial

Nov 1, 1918

Pension for wife approved in the amount of $576.00 per year



1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Death Plaque and Scroll and Memorial Cross were sent to his wife at Box 163, Port Hope Ontario 



For the 7 nights leading up to November 11, 2010, the names of all Canadian soldiers were projected onto the Belgian War Memorial in Ypres.  At the same time, the same names were being broadcast via the internet to schools across Belgium and Canada.  The image above shows the opening ceremonies at the Belgian War Memorial on November 4, 2010. 

Below on the left is the name of John Holden being projected on that wall.  Below right shows the name being broadcast to the schools.  Each name appeared for 25 seconds and each night 9,700 names were shown.


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