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.

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Robert Holden wearing the uniform of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

Robert Holden wearing the uniform of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

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Holden identity tags

Robert Holden’s identity tag. The initials ‘R.C.’ at the centre show the wearer's religion (Roman Catholic).

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Holden shipping label

Shipping label showing that Private Holden was suffering from severe gastritis. This is an inflammation of the stomach lining, and among the possible causes are traumatic injury or infection.

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Holden service postcard

Field Service Postcard addressed to Mrs Robert Holden from Robert Holden. The reverse is a series of remarks that are scored out as required, informing Mrs Holden that her husband is sick in hospital.

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Postcard of invalided soldiers

Postcard of invalided soldiers from different regiments, with nurses. Private Holden is lying on the ground in front of the group. He was recovering from severe gastritis at Trafalgar House hospital.

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Holden character certificate

Character Certificate for Robert Holden from Army form B.2067.

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Holden sacramentals

Wallet made of waxed fabric with a crucifix, two saints medals and two faded fragments of paper. These items are also known as sacramentals, objects blessed by the Catholic Church to represent the respect due to the Sacraments (sacred rites).

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Holden certificate 1918

Certificate awarding the War Badge to Robert Holden. The Silver War Badge was worn by injured soldiers in civilian life during the war, and showed that they had served and been injured rather than not signed up.