Tag Archives: 23rd Battalion

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Stephen William Holman


Regimental Number: 882

Stephen was born in Kilmore to Emmeline Ann, nee Hill, and Francis John Holman, the last of four children, while they were living in Church Street, Kilmore.

He was single, aged 19 when he enlisted on February 13, 1915, and listed his occupation a bacon curer, working for the family business of Holman and Still Bacon Manufacturers on the corner of Church Street and Kilmore Lancefield Road, Kilmore.

He lists his mother as his next of kin and was serving in the Citizen Forces, Essendon Rifles. He became a Private in the 23rd Battalion, C Company, 6th Infantry Brigade at Broadmeadows and departed from Melbourne on board HMAT “Euripides” on May 10, 1915.

On August 26, 1916, while in France he was “mentioned for good and gallant conduct in connection with the recent hard fighting at Pozieres” as mentioned in the 2nd Australian Division Orders.

Then in April 1917 he was specially mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatch which was published in the London Gazette of Tuesday, May 15, 1917, and promulgated in the Australian Gazette
of October 4, 1917.

Early in October he returned to the field from leave having over stayed his leave and was charged and 12 days pay withdrawn.

In December 1917, he was appointed Lance Corporal and in May 1918 promoted to Corporal.

He was again on leave in October and rejoined his battalion mid-November 1918 after the Armistice. He returned to England January 1919 and then returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged from the 3rd Military District on June 28 with no disability.

In June 1917, Emmeline Holman wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Defence requesting information about her son who had been on active service for more than two years.

She was advised to write to her son at “Elovs” which was the code word for 23rd Battalion and “Stralia”, code for A.I.F. Headquarters. Again she writes to Base Records Office, Melbourne in March 1919 requesting information on Corporal Holman’s return home.

He received the 1914/15 Star, the British War medal, The Victory Medal, and a set of Oak Leaves for the mention by Sir Douglas Haig.

In May 1930, Stephen wrote to Base records asking about receiving Leaves for the 1st mention in dispatches but was told he was only entitled to a certificate.

In October 1936, the Kilmore Bowling Club elected a new committee including Mr. S.W.Holman.

In January 1940, Stephen was elected on to the committee of the Kilmore Sub-branch of the R.S.S.I.L.A.

In 1967, Stephen wrote to the to the Officer in Charge, Central Army Records, Albert Park Barracks, Melbourne to request the ANZAC Commemorative Medallion and lapel badge stating he served on Gallipoli from September 4 to December 22, 1915.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 17 March 2015, p12

Members of the 23rd Battalion Headquarters football team, Belgium, 1917. Stephen William Holman is at the far right of the back row
Members of the 23rd Battalion Headquarters football team, Belgium, 1917. Stephen William Holman is at the far right of the back row. For other names and further detail refer to the original Source: AWM ID number P02397.001


Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Richard Thomas Cooke

Dick Cooke came from Irish catholic roots and was a son of Pyalong. One of twelve living children he was born at home on the family farm on February 24 1896. His father was Nicholas Cooke and his mother was Margaret, nee Ryan.

He was educated at Pyalong State School, then Assumption College Kilmore.

In February 1913, aged 17 he began work as a bank clerk in the Kilmore branch of the Bank of Victoria while undertaking his compulsory military training with the Essendon Rifles Senior Cadets.

In January 1915, he moved to Watchem with the Bank. By April he had been sent to Ouyen.  It was here, in June with his parents’ consent he enlisted.

As part of the 23rd Battalion, he was among the last of the reinforcements at Gallipoli and also part of it successful evacuation.  By the end of the year he was in France. In July 1916 he was wounded in the Battle of Pozieres.  In late August, Richard rejoined the Battalion.  He had survived one of the worst battles of the War only to return to the Somme offensive. On Thursday, 9th of November 1916, Richard was killed on the line at Flers.   He was 20 years old. Later a friend would write: “I can’t say how sorry I am to hear of young Dick Cooke going under. He was such a happy good natured young fellow, always smiling, the sort of lad everybody liked”.  The Kilmore Advertiser described him as “a game, joyous boy and a general favourite”.

He is remembered at the A.I.F. Burial Ground in Flers, France.

In Pyalong, he is commemorated on the Pyalong State School Honour Roll, a Roll of Honour from the Shire of Pyalong, now located in the Community Hall. His name is on a plaque beneath a picture of Saint Joseph in the Pyalong Catholic Church.

In Kilmore, he is commemorated on the doors of the small chapel at Assumption College, on the Honour Board in the Kilmore Memorial Hall and on the Kilmore War Memorial.

By Elizabeth Pidgeon

Richard Thomas Cooke, 1896-1916
Richard Thomas Cooke, 1896-1916

Photo source: Cooke Family

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 9 December 2014, p6