Pte Thomas W Holmes, VC (centre), 21 Jan 1918

Photograph Information

Title: Pte Thomas W Holmes, VC (centre), 21 Jan 1918
Source: Library and Archives Canada
Source Link: Mikan #3216874
Photographer: Unknown
Date: 1918

Colourization Notes

I have flipped the original image since it was the wrong way round (as evidenced by the VC ribbon on the wrong side and the wound stripe on the wrong arm!

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Pte Thomas W Holmes, VC

Holmes was 19 years old, when as a private serving with the 4th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, Canadian Expeditionary Force, he won the Victoria Cross. On 26 October 1917 near Passchendaele, Belgium, he performed a deed for which King George V awarded Tommy 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.”

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.

Sergeant Tommy Holmes, VC, returned to Owen Sound after the war to great fanfare and receiving a hero’s welcome. On 16 September 1919, he was chosen to be part of the Colour Party for the laying-up of the 147th (Grey) Battalion, CEF Colours in the Carnegie Library, Owen Sound.

He is listed in the source as being the youngest Canadian recipient of the VC, however there is another Canadian VC, Thomas Ricketts from Newfoundland who was younger. However, Newfoundland wasn’t part of the Canadian confederation at that point…