Remembrance Day 2020

Photos, ephemera and a wooden chest belonging to Holley Skelton. Source: author’s collection.

In 2015 I wrote about two brothers from Essex, 2nd Lieut. Henry Harry Skelton and 2nd Lieutenant Benjamin Dowell Skelton, both of whom died in the last six weeks of the First World War. This year I’m remembering their cousin Private Holley Skelton who served in the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada).

I’ve had photographs and ephemera relating to the Skelton family for years however two weeks ago I was given this wonderful wooden chest (thank you Cathy!) used by Holley Skelton in 1907 when he emigrated with his family to British Columbia. In addition to the wooden chest there are two photographs of Holley in uniform and a tiny envelope of photos and clippings which he presumably carried with him while he was overseas. I’ve also included the war grave photos featured in my article on Henry and Benjamin Skelton.

Holley was born in Islington, London on November 11, 1896 and left Britain on March 7, 1907 aboard S.S. Canada bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia. On arrival the family faced a train journey of over 5000 km (3000 miles) as they headed west to their final destination: Armstrong, British Columbia.

Holley grew up a farmer and remained so his entire life, however in August 1918 he found himself on a ship to Britain. He landed in France just days prior to his 24th birthday where he joined the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada). He remained on the continent until early May 1919 when he returned to Britain in preparation for his departure to Canada in June. He eventually married and raised a family in British Columbia before his death in Armstrong in 1976, aged 79.

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