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|Stanley Elton Hollis|
21 September 1912|
Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England
|Died||8 February 1972
Liverton Mines, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Buried at||Acklam Cemetery, Middlesbrough (Coordinates: )|
|Years of service||1939-1944|
|Rank||Company Sergeant Major|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Stanley Elton Hollis VC (21 September 1912 – 8 February 1972) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He has the unique distinction of receiving the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day (6 June 1944).
Stanley Hollis was born in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England where he lived and attended the local school until 1926 when his parents (Edith and Alfred Hollis) moved to Robin Hood's Bay where Stan worked in his father's fish and chip shop. In 1929, he became an apprentice to a Whitby shipping company to learn to be a Navigation Officer. He made regular voyages to West Africa but in 1930 he fell ill with blackwater fever which ended his merchant navy career.
Returning to North Ormesby, Middlesbrough he got a job as a lorry driver and married Alice Clixby with whom he had a son and a daughter. In 1939 he enlisted as a Territorial Army volunteer in 4th Battalion, The Green Howards. At the outbreak of World War II he was mobilised and joined the 6th Battalion, The Green Howards and went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940 where he was employed as the Commanding Officer's dispatch rider. He was promoted from Lance Corporal to Sergeant during the evacuation from Dunkirk. He then fought from El Alamein to Tunis as part of the British 8th Army in the North African Campaign. Hollis was appointed Company Sergeant Major just before the invasion of Sicily in 1943 where he was wounded at the battle of Primosole Bridge.
On 6 June 1944 in Normandy, France, Hollis was still a company sergeant major with the Green Howards, who were one of the assault battalions at Gold Beach. As the company moved inland from the beaches after the initial landings, Hollis went with his company commander to investigate two German pillboxes which had been by-passed. He rushed forward to the first pill-box, taking all but five of the occupants prisoner and then dealt with the second, taking 26 prisoners. Then he cleared a neighbouring trench. Later that day, he led an attack on an enemy position which contained a field gun and Spandau machine guns. After withdrawing he learned that two of his men had been left behind and told Major Lofthouse, his commanding officer, "I took them in. I will try to get them out." Taking a grenade from one of his men Hollis carefully observed the enemy's pattern of behaviour and threw it at the most opportune moment. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to prime the grenade but the enemy did not know this and kept their heads down waiting for it to explode. By the time they realised their mistake Hollis was on top of them and had shot them.
In September 1944 he was wounded in the leg and evacuated to England where he was decorated by King George VI on 10 October 1944.
After the war, he spent several years as a sandblaster in a local steelworks. He later became a partner in a motor repair business in Darlington before becoming a ship's engineer from 1950 until 1955. He then trained as a publican and ran the 'Albion' public house in Market Square, North Ormesby: the pub's name was changed to 'The Green Howard'. The public house was demolished in 1970 and he moved to become the tenant of the 'Holywell View' public house at Liverton Mines near Loftus.
Hollis died on 8 February 1972 and was buried in Acklam Cemetery Middlesbrough.
Hollis was 31 years old, and a Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major) in the 6th Battalion, Green Howards, British Army during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:
|“||in Normandy on 6 June 1944 Company Sergeant-Major Hollis went with his company commander to investigate two German pill-boxes which had been by-passed as the company moved inland from the beaches. "Hollis instantly rushed straight at the pillbox, firing his Sten gun into the first pill-box, He jumped on top of the pillbox, re-charged his magazine, threw a grenade in through the door and fired his Sten gun into it, killing two Germans and taking the remainder prisoners.
Later the same day... C.S.M. Hollis pushed right forward to engage the [field] gun with a PIAT from a house at 50 yards range... He later found that two of his men had stayed behind in the house...In full view of, the enemy who were continually firing at him, he went forward alone...distract their attention from the other men. Under cover of his diversion, the two men were able to get back.
Wherever the fighting was heaviest...[he]...appeared, displaying the utmost gallantry... It was largely through his heroism and resource that the Company's objectives were gained and casualties were not heavier. ....he saved the lives of many of his men.
His Victoria Cross was bought by medal collector Sir Ernest Harrison OBE, chairman of Racal and Vodafone. Harrison later presented the medal to the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, North Yorkshire. Ten years later, he purchased, for the Green Howards, the Normandy hut which Hollis had attacked.
- British VCs of World War 2 (John Laffin, 1997)
- D-day Victoria Cross: Story of Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis, VC (Philip Wilkinson, 1997)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)