Thomas William Holmes

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Thomas William Holmes
Thomas William Holmes.jpg
Born 14 October 1898
Montreal, Canada
Died 4 January 1950
Toronto, Ontario
Buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada
Allegiance Canadian Red Ensign 1868-1921.svg Canada
Service/branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Years of service 1915 - 1919
Rank Sergeant
Unit 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross
Other work Harbour pilot

Thomas William Holmes VC (14 October 1898 – 4 January 1950) was a soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and was a Canadian 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, during the First World War. Holmes is the youngest Canadian to ever win the Victoria Cross.

World War I[edit]

Holmes was 19 years old, and a private in the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, 2nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. On 26 October 1917 near Passchendaele, Belgium, he performed a deed for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross: when the right flank of the Canadian attack was held up by heavy machine-gun fire from a pill-box strong point and heavy casualties were producing a critical situation, Private Holmes, on his own initiative and single-handed, ran forward and threw two bombs, killing and wounding the crews of two machine-guns. He then fetched another bomb and threw this into the entrance of the pill-box, causing the 19 occupants to surrender.[1]

It was during the investiture at Buckingham Palace that Holmes admitted to King George V that he had lied about his age and joined the army at age 17.

Later life[edit]

After the war Holmes was a pilot for the Harbour Commission for fifteen years. In 1936 he and another officer saved the lives of three persons whose auxiliary cabin boat upset in the harbour. In 1935 his home was robbed and the Victoria Cross was stolen. In 1942 Holmes narrowly escaped death when his launch exploded.

Holmes died on 4 January 1950 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. His memorial service was attended by Victoria Cross holders Henry Howey Robson, Colin Fraser Barron and Walter Leigh Rayfield.

A replica of Thomas Holmes VC medal is now on display at the Owen Sound Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6.

Thomas Holmes plaque.jpg


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30471. p. 724. 8 January 1918. Retrieved 7 April 2015.

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