FRANCIS HENRY HOLYOAKE ~ Nelson RSA Medals ~ two groups down, three to go.


Francis (Frank) Henry Holyoake was born and raised at Sandy Bay, Nelson where he worked the family farm with his father Richard, and brother Albert (served with 2nd NZ Rifle Brigade).  At his time of enlistment in August 1915, 31 year old Frank was a labourer with the Public Works Dept. of Nelson.  He had also served for two years as a member of the Nelson Mounted Rifle Volunteers and due to his mounted rifle experience was placed in the 7th Reinforcements of the 10th Canterbury Mounted Rifles.  Following his basic training at Trentham, he embarked at Wellington in October 1915 for Port Said, Egypt.

7/1745 Trooper Francis Henry HOLYOAKE spent the first five months in Zeitoun and Port Said training for operations in the (Suez) Canal Zone before being dispatched to the town of Kantara where his unit was based. 

Shortly after his arrival, Tpr. Holyoake reported sick and was diagnosed as suffering from chronic gastritis, losing weight rapidly and unable to hold sufficient food down to recover properly.  As a result, his general condition deteriorated very quickly and was considered by the medical officers to be dire. He was quickly sent to the No1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst in England, and then on to the Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital.  Tpr. Holyoake made a steady recovery over the next few months only to be struck down with appendicitis.  He was transferred to Walton-on-Thames Hospital where he remained for the next four months. 

Apart from his first few months in Egypt, Tpr. Holyoake spent the remainder of his time overseas in a seriously ill state, or convalescing – almost 18 months of illness and recovery.  He recovered sufficiently to manage the sea voyage back to New Zealand in July 1917 and was subsequently discharged from the NZEF in October 1917 – “no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service”.

Tpr. Holyoake was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service – well earned I would suggest, suffering as he did.

WW1 - Medal Trio

WW1 – Medal Trio

Tpr. Holyoake returned to civilian life and married Cora Lydia Aston WOOLF.  Together they raised two daughters, Rae (June) Phylis. 

It is believed Frank’s daughter June, who had looked after Frank’s medals after his death in Nelson on 1st August 1945, gave his medals to the Nelson RSA as he had been a member there.

MRNZ was able to ascertain that whilst June and Phylis who had been living in the North Island after each had married and had families, both had passed away.  Further research uncovered Adam G., grandson of Phylis, who was living in Nelson and after confirming his identity I advised the Nelson RSA President of my findings and that Adam could be given the medals – as a result, Adam is now the proud family custodian of Tpr. Francis Henry Holyoake’s medals. 

Only three more sets to go …