Private Rennie Hollings. 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Service number 242166.
Rennie was born on 27th July 1895 in Stanbury, the birth was registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year. His parents were Richard and Ann Elizabeth Hollings née Proctor. Richard was a worsted weaver, as was Ann before marriage in 1880.
By 1901 Rennie was five and living at 9, Lumbfoot. He had four sisters Mary, Martha, Ellen and Maud and three brothers Harold, Ben and George and they will all have attended Stanbury Village School. The 15th March 1904 was a special day for the family as their parents arranged for Harold, Martha, Maud, Ellen, George, Mary, Ben and Rennie to be baptised all at the same time, at St Michael and All Angels Church in Haworth. It must have been quite an occasion!
By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 74, Stanbury and Rennie was by then a 16 year old worsted doffer. In fact six of the children were working for a worsted manufacturer either full or part-time. Richard and Ann had given birth to 11 children, one of whom had died before the 1911 census.
We think Rennie enlisted in Haworth through the Derby Scheme some time around April 1916 and went out to France later that year.
Keighley News 21st April 1917, page 3:
Private Rennie Hollings, a Stanbury soldier, who has four brothers serving with the forces, has been wounded, and is in hospital in the South of England.
Overview from the 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment war diary for July/August 1918:
On the 27th July 1918 the battalion relieved the 1st King's Own Regiment in the front line at the centre subsection of Riez de Vinage sector. Two companies were placed in the front and support lines and two were in reserve. The period was fairly quiet for a couple of days until 31st July when the German artillery shelled Battalion HQ and killed 30 men and wounded 2 more. The next day Rennie must have been stationed in the support trenches as these were also shelled and 3 men were killed and 3 wounded. Sadly Rennie was one of the three men killed.
Keighley News 31st August 1918, page 3:
Mrs Hollings, Stanbury, has just had official confirmation of the report - first sent by Private Jim Ogden, of Haworth, that Private Rennie Hollings was killed in action on August 1 in France. Private Hollings was one of the first to join up under the Derby Scheme in the early days of 1916, and was wounded in the leg in March, 1917. He was one of five sons of Mrs. Hollings who were serving in the Army, and in February, 1918, she had the pleasure of having Tom, Ben, Rennie and Alfred at home practically together. Harold the fifth boy, was away on leave in New Zealand, after being wounded while fighting with the Anzacs in France. Rennie was slightly wounded a second time on May 23, but was back with his unit in June.
The three men were buried in adjoining graves 4, 5, 6 in Row G, with Rennie in grave no. 6 in Gonnehem British Cemetery. Rennie's headstone bears the family inscription "Gone before he hath done what he could."
He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service and these, along with his memorial plaque and certificate, will have been sent to his mother Ann.
Rennie is remembered locally on the Stanbury and Oldfield War Memorial in Stanbury Cemetery. His brothers all survived the war.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, Non-Conformist Records, 1646-1985
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Keighley News archives in Keighley Library
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923