About Edward James Gibson Holland
Edward James Gibson Holland was born in Ottawa, Canada on February 2nd, 1878 to Andrew and Charlotte Holland. He lived at 216 copper street. When Edward was a teenager, he attended modeling school at Ottawa Collegiate (Lisgar Collegiate Institute). Edward developed an early interest in military life with the 94th Lisgar Collegiate Institute Cadet Corp. which was originally organized as “the Victoria Cross Corps Of Ottawa” on March 22nd, 1866.
When Edward was 17, he joined the Militia and served with the 43rd Regiment and the 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards from 1895-1897. Edward did this while working as a clerk and salesman for T. Birkett in Hintonberg.
In 1898 Edward had gone into business with his father at 141 Maria Street. Holland and Son were in the business of selling acetylene gas generating and calcium carbide lighting for railway carriages and houses.
On December 29th, 1899 the Ottawa Journal reported that Edward Holland had enlisted in the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifle Battalion for service in South Africa in the Bore War. The journal also reported (January 4, 1900) that Edward and 11 others had left for Montreal to meet the Canadian Atlantic Railway on heir way to Halifax and the overseas. On February 21, 1900 the ship, the Milwakee, left port in Halifax to arrive in the shadow of Table Mountain near Capetown four weeks later.
It was about thirteen days before the 1st battalion C.M.R. were ordered forward. Over the period of the next two months, the 1st Battalion C.M.R would travel over six hundred miles battling Boers. They finally reached Pretoria on June 6th.
After the fall of Pretoria to the British, many thought the war would soon end. This was not the case. The Boers driven from every center large and small were now gathering to the west of the British forces at Belfast. While the british forces were slowly converging on the Boer the 1st Battalion C.M.R. would be instrumental in their assignments of outpost, rearguard, scouting and patrol duty as well as fighting as Mounted Rifles. In August, the 1st Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles would be redesignated Royal Canadian Dragoons. However, the Regiment would not be aware of this until October 23rd.
Over the ensuing months of British and Canadians forced the Boers further and further west now past Belfast where General Smith - Dorrien’s forces were based with the intention of driving the Boer off the Komati River Basin.
By October, Holland had been promoted to the rank of Sergant and it was in this capacity that he and his fellow men and officers faced what was perhaps the largest scale cavalry attack the bores had ever mounted.
On November 7, 1900, Sgt. Holland was part of a small rearguard troop that included two twelve inch guns of “D” battery Royal Canadian Field Artillery. Lieutenant Colonel L.F. Lessard, the commanding Officer of the royal Canadian Dragoons was in command of the advance guard, lieutenant E.W. Morrison commanded the 2 Canadian field guns while Sgt. Holland controlled a weapon known as a Colt Machine Gun.
Assigned to protect the withdrawal of British Infantry and baggage from the Komati River, The R.C.D. were ordered to retire only after the two guns of “D” Battery had retired and were safe from enemy capture. The R.C.D. formed a screen in an arc extending one and a half miles across the rear of the departing British column. There were three troops of approximately thirty men each. “D” Battery’s two field guns and the Colt Machine Gun under Sgt. Holland were deployed just behind the rim of the arc.
Major Holland, by his last wish, wash cremated and his ashes spread on an island in Temagami he called Shabumene, for which he had received the Crown Patient in 1942 and where he spent perhaps the most peaceful times of his life.
Major Edward James Gibson Holland V.C. was for the most of his life a Citizen Solder. Called upon in two wars, he served his country and remained in times of peace a Solder On Call. He is truly a model for today’s young Militia Men.
Edward James Gibson Holland VC was born in Ottawa, Ontario, son of Andrew Holland and Mrs. (Gibson) Holland. He was educated at Ottawa Collegiate and at Ottawa Model School (Teachers College).
In 1895 he joined the Militia (Reserve Army), serving with the 43rd Regiment and the 5th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards until 1897. When the South African (Boer) War (1899-1902) broke out, he transferred to the Royal Canadian Dragoons and traveled with his regiment to South Africa.
On 17 November 1900, Sergeant Holland’s character shone in the Battle of Liliefontein. Acting as the rearguard for a column of troops, the Dragoons found themselves under fire from an overwhelming number of Boers. Dodging bullets for several hours, the Dragoons twice prevented the capture of the artillery (two 12 pounder heavy guns) under their protection and saved the lives of those troops protecting the guns.
Sergeant Holland had his horse shot out from under him but held the Boers off with his Colt Machine gun, until it ran out of bullets. Quickly, with the enemy fast approaching, Holland tucked his empty gun under his arm, hopped on a horse and galloped away.
His gallantry on this occasion earned him the Victoria Cross (VC). His service during the Boer War earned him the Queen’s Medal with clasps for Belfast, Cape Colony, Johannesburg and Transvaal.
In 1904, he became a major in the 13th Scottish Light Dragoons and in 1914 was given command of the Borden Machine Gun Battery, which he took to France in September 1915.
In October 1916 he returned to Canada and was transferred to the Reserve Army. At the end of WWI, he retired from the army. In 1932 he became postmaster at Cobalt, Ontario, where he died in January 1948.
He married Dora Muriel Spencer Knapp and they had three children; William James Gibson Holland, Frederick Van Ronesher Holland and Muriel Knapp Holland.
Edward Holland's Timeline
February 2, 1878
Ottawa, Ottawa Division, Ontario, Canada
June 18, 1948
Cobalt, Timiskaming District, Ontario, Canada
Toronto, Toronto Division, Ontario, Canada