Private Robert Holden
Private Robert Holden served with the 1st and 3rd Battalions of The Cameronians during the First World War. He enlisted in Blackburn while working as a weaver in Great Harwood, a small industrial town in Lancashire. Many men from the North of England joined the Cameronians during the First World War. Although it seems strange for Englishmen to join a Scottish regiment, they may have been attracted by the opportunity to travel away from home for training, or to wear tartan. The large number of factories and mills in the North provided a large number of possible recruits.
Private Holden served with the British Expeditionary Force from 31st August 1915 to 5th October 1915. He was officially discharged at the end of 1917, after being invalided out due to severe gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). Holden was awarded a Silver War Badge, identifying him as a war-wounded soldier on return to civilian life. He was Catholic, as shown by the initials ‘R.C.’ for Roman Catholic, printed at the centre of his identity tags, and his wallet with a crucifix and religious medals. On discharge, Holden was described as ‘an honest and diligent soldier, discharged in consequence of a disability contracted on active service’. After the war he returned to Great Harwood, where he was employed by the cotton manufacturer ‘Birtwistle & Fielding’, as a Winding Master.