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
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
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. www.ingersoll.ca
(opens a new window)
and reproduced here with their permission