Edward James Gibson Holland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Edward James Gibson Holland
Sgt. EJG Holland.jpg
Born 2 February 1878
Ottawa, Ontario
Died 18 June 1948 (aged 70)
Cobalt, Ontario
Buried St James Cemetery, Toronto
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Rank Major
Unit The Royal Canadian Dragoons
Canadian Machine Gun Corps
Battles/wars Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Victoria Cross

Major Edward James Gibson Holland VC (2 February 1878, Ottawa – 18 June 1948, Cobalt, Ontario) 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, for actions taken during the Second Boer War in South Africa.

Early life[edit]

Holland was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and attended Lisgar Collegiate Institute.

Military career[edit]

Obverse and reverse of Holland's VC

At the start of the Second Boer War, Holland, now 22 years old, enlisted as a sergeant in The Royal Canadian Dragoons. He was one of three men from his regiment who were awarded the VC during a desperate rearguard action on 7 November 1900 at the Battle of Leliefontein near the Komati River. (The others were Lieutenant Hampden Zane Churchill Cockburn and Lieutenant Richard Ernest William Turner.)

During a dramatic retreat in the face of a superior force, Turner and Cockburn commanded a small group of men tasked with repulsing a large force of Boers at close range to prevent two 12-pound field guns from being captured. During the action, Holland helped to hold back the Boers using a Colt machine gun mounted on a carriage between the two guns. However, when the Colt machine gun overheated and jammed, Holland was unwilling to let it fall into the hands of the Boers. Realizing that the horse that pulled the machine gun carriage was too exhausted to outrun the Boers, Holland quickly detached the hot weapon from the carriage, caught and mounted a nearby horse and rode from the scene with the machine gun under his arm.[1]

His citation for the Victoria Cross was published in the London Gazette of 23 April 1901:

Sergeant Holland did splendid work with his Colt gun, and kept the Boers off the two 12-pounders by its fire at close range. When he saw the enemy were too near for him to escape with the carriage, as the horse was blown, he calmly lifted the gun off and galloped away with it under his arm.[2]

Following his return to Canada, Holland became a commissioned officer. During the visit to Canada of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, Holland received the Victoria Cross from the Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) in Ottawa on 21 September 1901.[3]

Holland eventually achieved the rank of Major and served in World War I with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

He died in 1948 in Cobalt, Ontario.


  • His Victoria Cross is currently stored as part of the Archives and Collection of the Royal Canadian Dragoons at CFB Petawawa.
  • A plaque erected in 1969 at Trafalgar House on Argyle Street in Ottawa and dedicated to Holland relates the story of how he earned his VC.[4]
  • A brass plaque and print were erected in 1986 at his alma mater, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, by students and alumni in 1986 in remembrance of his bravery at Leliefontein.[5]
  • The Canadian Department of National Defence named an armoury in Ottawa the Major E.J.G. Holland VC Armoury.[6] It is home to four local reserve units: 33 Signals Regiment, 33 Combat Engineer Regiment, 33 Service Battalion, and 33 Military Police Platoon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Victoria Cross - The South African (Boer) War 1899-1902: Sergeant Edward J.G. Holland, V.C.". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  2. ^ "No. 27307". The London Gazette. 23 April 1901. p. 2775. 
  3. ^ "The Royal Tour". The Times (36567). London. 23 September 1901. p. 4. 
  4. ^ "Holland memorial plaque: Trafalgar House: Memorial 35059-022 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  5. ^ "Holland memorial: Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-056 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Major E. J. G. Holland VC Armoury: Memorial 35060-078 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 7 January 2017. 

External links[edit]