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» Robert James HOLDEN
 
 

Robert James HOLDEN

Robert HoldenService number 172305

Born: July 3rd 1919

Died: September 18th 1945

He was born at Norbury, the second child of Everard Osborne Holden (OKS) a bank director, and his wife, Josephine Agnes Paice of Alexandria, Egypt; Jerusalem, Palestine; and of The Mill House, Horsmonsden in Kent.

He was educated at Junior King’s from January 1930 and at the King’s School, Canterbury from September 1933 to July 1938, where he was in School House. He was a Scholar, a School Monitor and Hon Secretary of the Cantuarian and the Pater Society. He gained his 2nd XI colours for hockey, and 2 XV colours for rugby.  He  was a Warrant Officer on the Officer Training Corps. He Matriculated in 1938 and was up at Christ Church until 1940.

Soon after the outbreak of war he joined the Royal Sussex Regiment as a Private but was sent for officer training at the 164th Officer Training Unit. On completion he was commissioned on February 18th 1941 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was promoted to Captain in 1944 and was wounded in France which left him with a slight disability in his left arm.  He won the Military Cross which was announced in the London Gazette on the 19th of October 1944.

After recovering from his wounds, he returned as an instructor to the 164th Infantry Officers Cadet Training Unit. On the 18th of September 1945, whilst loading explosive charges on to a truck, there was a sudden explosion which killed him, instantly.
His father wrote:- “He lost his life in one of those unhappy accidents for which there is no apparent explanation.  He had finished his morning operations and was loading unused explosive charges, of a type requiring to be detonated electrically, into a truck when there was a sudden explosion and he was killed instantaneously.   Mercifully he could have known nothing whatever about it.”

His Commanding Officer wrote:-
“When Bob arrived here he was posted, owing to his medical category, to a very minor appointment.   But within a few days it was obvious his talents were entirely wasted there, and I made him assistant to the Chief Instructor, where his chief responsibility was the creation of new methods of instruction.   At this he was an outstanding success.   His quick imaginative brain produced an endless flow of really original ideas and his popularity with the officer instructors, who had enormous confidence in him, made it easy to put these ideas into practice.   The officer cadets loved him.  His magnificent war record, of course, attracted them, but what really endeared him to them was that they could look up to him as the ideal officer - the kind of officer each one of them hoped to be.”

The Chief Instructor wrote:-
“He made a great success of his time here. The nature of the work gave him full scope for the exercise of his vivid imagination and original, fresh outlook.   The qualities which made him so successful in the army would, I feel sure, have carried him to great heights eventually in civilian life.   In addition his social gifts and great sense of humour made him a most popular and valued member of the Mess.  It is especially tragic, therefore, that having survived the war, he should go in this way….I am only expressing the views of every member of the Instruction Staff when I say that we have all lost a most valued and delightful friend as well as a very brilliant colleague.”

He is buried in the churchyard of St. Margaret, Horsmonden. Kent, and commemorated on the war memorial at Horsmonden..
 

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