John Walter Holmes, DCM

On the left he is shown in uniform during WW2, and on right he is with his granddaughter


            John Walter Holmes was a dedicated soldier and a dedicated police officer.  

            Born in Norwich, England on October 4, 1890, he was one of the 11 children of Walter and Hannah Holmes. John was 16 when he came to Ingersoll with his family on April 5, 1906. He was a lineman by trade when he joined the 168th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on February 13, 1916.  

Sailing from Halifax aboard the S.S. Lapland, he arrived in England, disembarking at Liverpool November 1, 1916. He saw service in Canada, the United Kingdom and France. He had previously served two years in the Grey Horse (a Canadian Militia Cavalry Regiment with Headquarters at Ingersoll and Squadrons at Princeton, Ingersoll and Berlin, organized in 1908).  

`On August 28, 1917 John received a shrapnel wound to his face and was taken to the No. 10 Canadian Field Ambulance. He returned to duty in three days.  

            John saw extensive action in France where he was promoted to Armourer Corporal and a few months later to Sergeant.  

            He suffered through a mustard gas attack August 8, 1918 and was admitted to hospitals in Rouen and then Trousville. He rejoined his Regiment September 7.  

            John was promoted to Company Sergeant Major while in the field, a promotion that was later made permanent. He was also named Warrant Officer Class 2. 

            He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for extreme bravery.  

            CSM Holmes was sent back to England April 5, 1919.  

            He was ‘demobbed’ from the 21st Battalion May 24, 1919.  

            John came back home to Ingersoll and continued work as a lineman until he joined the Ingersoll Police Department, probably in the 1930s. He was also a Volunteer Fire Fighter.  

            An undated newspaper clipping, under the heading, “Popular Appointment,” states, “The appointment of John Holmes as a permanent member of the police force is a popular one. It is the first occasion upon which Ingersoll has ever had three permanent members of the force…” 

            John took a leave of absence from the Police Department to enlist in the Veterans Guard of Canada in World War II. He served as a Private, declining the Commission that was offered to him. John was detailed to guarding German Prisoners of War at Espanola, Ontario. Unfortunately the ravages of the mustard gas attack in World War I made it impossible for him to carry on. He was discharged for “physical reasons” at Toronto, January 5, 1943 and came back to his police work. He remained with that until the force was disbanded and Ontario Provincial Police brought in. He then went to work in the shipping department of Morrow’s [Screw and Nut factory], working the late afternoon shift.  

            John and Irene (Dain) Holmes had three children: Yvonne, Ingersoll [died 2006]; John Walter (Jack) who died in 1983 [in Ingersoll]; and Ross Charles, who died in 1993 [in Waterloo]; and six grandchildren.  

            John died in 1962 from complications associated with pneumonia; a result of the mustard gas attack of so many years ago.

- from Thank You; A Tribute to Ingersoll Veterans by Yvonne Holmes Mott (daughter of JW Holmes DCM). © 2009. Published by Ingersoll & District Historical Society. 519-485-2062. (opens a new window) and reproduced here with their permission



Oct 4, 1890

Born at Norwich England


Feb 13, 1916

Attested into the 168th Battalion at Ingersoll Ontario 

Ø      Number 675524

Ø      Next of kin given as Walter Holmes (father) of Ingersoll Ontario

Ø      Previous occupation given as Lineman

Ø      Previous military experience given as 2 years in the 24th Regt. Grey’s Horse Militia at Ingersoll

Ø      Religion given as Church of England


Nov 1, 1916

Embarked the SS Lapland at Halifax Nova Scotia



Nov 11, 1916

Disembarked at Liverpool England


Dec 5, 1916

Transferred to the 39th Battalion


Dec 6, 1916

TOS 39th Battalion at West Sandling Camp


Jan 4, 1917

Transferred to the 6th Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe


Apr 11, 1917

Awarded 14 days Field Punishment No 2.  (Offence not noted)


Apr 17, 1917

SOS (Struck Off Strength) 6th Reserve Battalion on transfer to 21st Battalion


Apr 18, 1917

Arrived at CBD (Canadian Base Depot) and TOS (Taken On Strength) the 21st Battalion


Apr 21, 1917

Left to join unit


May 21, 1917

Joined the 21st Battalion in the field


Aug 15, 1917

Admitted to No 6 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) with a shrapnel wound to the face and transferred to the 10 CFA


Aug 18, 1917

Released and returned to duty


Aug 20, 1917

Appointed to Company Armourer and graded for pay as Regimental Cpl


Jan 12, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Jan 26, 1918

Returned from leave


Feb 23, 1918

Promoted to rank of Cpl and appointed to Armourer Cpl


Aug 16, 1918

Admitted to No 4 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) with effects of gas poisoning


Aug 17, 1918

Transferred to Base Hospital


Aug 18, 1918

Transferred to No 10 General Hospital, “W” Wing, at Rouen


Aug 20, 1918

Transferred to No 72 General Hospital at Trouville


Aug 25, 1918

Transferred to No 15 Convalescent Depot at Trouville


Aug 30, 1918

Relinquishes appointment of Armourer Corporal and promoted to rank of Sgt


Sep 7, 1918

Discharged to Base Details


Sep 10, 1918

Arrived at CIBD “A” (Canadian Infantry Base Depot Invalid section)


Sep 18, 1918

Left for CCRC (Canadian Corps Reinforcement Centre)


Sep 20, 1918

Rejoined 21st Battalion in the field


Nov 2, 1918

Appointed to Acting CSM with pay


Dec 25, 1918

Granted 14 days leave


Jan 13, 1919

Rejoined from leave


Mar 12, 1919

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, London Gazette #31257



Apr 3, 1919

Proceeded to Canadian Embarkation Camp in England


Apr 4, 1919

TOS “P” Wing at Witley pending return to Canada


May 9, 1919

Promoted to rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 with effect from Nov 1, 1918 

Confirmed in appointment to Company Sgt Major with effect from Nov 1, 1918


May 14, 1919

Embarked the RMS Caronia at Liverpool



May 22, 1919

Disembarked at Halifax Nova Scotia and proceeded by train to Kingston Ontario


May 24, 1919

Discharged from the CEF at Kingston Ontario 

Ø      War Service Badge Class “A” issued No 279885

Ø      Proposed address on discharge – Ingersoll Ontario


Jun 27, 1922

British War Medal and Victory Medal sent to Ingersoll Ontario


Sep 11, 1942

Enlisted into the Canadian Forces at London Ontario 

Ø      Number A104422

Ø      Next of kin given as Mrs Irene Emma Holmes (wife)

Ø      Served in Canada only


Jan 5, 1943

Discharged from the Canadian Forces as physically unfit


Oct 9, 1962

Deceased at Ingersoll Ontario


Ingersoll Rural Cemetery
Ingersoll ON


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