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Stanley Elton Hollis
|Born||21 September 1912|
Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Died||8 February 1972 (aged 59)|
Liverton Mines, North Riding of Yorkshire
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.
Stanley Hollis was born in Middlesbrough, North Riding of 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 he worked in his father's fish and chip shop.
In 1929 he was apprenticed to a Whitby shipping company, to learn to be a Navigation Officer. He made regular voyages to West Africa; but in 1930 fell ill with blackwater fever, which ended his merchant navy career. Returning to North Ormesby, Middlesbrough he worked as a lorry driver, and married Alice Clixby with whom he had a son and a daughter.
In 1939 he enlisted in the Territorial Army, part of the British Army, in the 4th Battalion, Green Howards. At the outbreak of World War II he was mobilised and transferred to the 6th Battalion, Green Howards and went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940, where he served as the commanding officer's despatch 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 Eighth Army in the North African Campaign. He was promoted to Company sergeant major shortly before the invasion of Sicily in 1943, where he was wounded at the battle of Primosole Bridge.
On D-Day, the 6th Green Howards landed on Gold Beach. As his 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 the first, taking all but five of the occupants prisoner; and then dealt with the second, taking 26 prisoners. He next cleared a neighbouring trench. Later that day, he led an unsuccessful attack on an enemy position containing a field gun and Spandau machine guns. After withdrawing, he learned that two of his men had been left behind; and said to his commanding officer, Major Lofthouse: "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 failed to prime the grenade; but the enemy did not know that, and kept their heads down waiting for it to explode. By the time they had realised their mistake Hollis was on top of them, and had shot them down.
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.
Hollis was 31 years old, and a Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant-Major) in the 6th Battalion, The 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 [anti-tank weapon] 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.
After the war, he worked for a time as a sandblaster in a local steelworks. He then became a partner in a motor repair business in Darlington, before becoming a ship's engineer from 1950 to 1955. He next 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'. After the pub was demolished in 1970, he moved to become the tenant of the 'Holywell View' public house at Liverton Mines near Loftus.
He died on 8 February 1972, and was laid to rest in Acklam Cemetery, Middlesbrough.
Hollis Crescent, a military accommodation estate, was named after him in the 1980s/90s in Strensall, North Yorkshire. A memorial plaque was put on the side of number 2 Hollis Crescent to commemorate his Victoria Cross.
A statue honouring him, sculpted by Brian Alabaster ARBS, was unveiled on 26 November 2015 by Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Peter Scrope. The walk-in memorial is located close to the Middlesbrough cenotaph outside the gates of Albert Park in front of the Dorman Museum.
His Victoria Cross was bought by medal collector Sir Ernest Harrison OBE, chairman of Racal and Vodafone. Harrison presented the medal to the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, North Yorkshire in 1997. Ten years later, he purchased, for the Green Howards, the Normandy hut which Hollis had attacked.
- "The full story of Teesside D-Day hero Stan Hollis". Middlesbrough Evening Gazette Live. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- "Wartime Courage by Gordon Brown". Daily Telegraph. Issue 47, 409. 7 November 2007. p. 28. Archived from the original on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- "No. 36658". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 August 1944. pp. 3807–3808.
- "Hundreds turn out as memorial to Middlesbrough VC war hero Stanley Hollis is unveiled". Middlesbrough Evening Gazette Live Website. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- Brewerton, David (22 February 2009). "Sir Ernest Harrison". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- D-Day Hero - CSM Stanley Hollis VC - exclusive family-backed biography first published by Sutton Publishing (hardback) 2004. Special updated 70th anniversary D-Day edition available from May 2014 from The History Press. Posted by author Mike Morgan 21 February 2014.
- 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)
- The Green Howards Hollis Memorial - Hollis Hut, Ver-sur-Mer
- Location of grave and VC medal (Cleveland)
- News Item (VC medal donation to regimental museum)
- D-Day (highly detailed site on the D-Day landings)
- Stanley Hollis at Find a Grave
- Brian Alabaster ARBS(sculptor of the Stanley Hollis Memorial statue)[permanent dead link]