The year is 1897, and Edwin Holdstock has crammed a lot into his 38 years. Born in North Kent, he has travelled well, working as a grocer’s manager in south London. His first wife, Kate, gave him five beautiful children, four girls and a boy, before she died, aged only 35. Edwin married again, to Louisa, and they have already had their first child, a boy.
A new birth is on its way, though, and his third son – Herbert Frederick Victor Holdstock is born. They are living in Thornton Heath, Surrey.
The family up and move again, this time to Grimsbury, near Banbury, Oxfordshire. Edwin has new employment, as a superintendent for Kingsley Sewing Machines in the town.
Edwin appears to be an ambitious man; by the time of the 1911 census, he has moved the family from Oxfordshire back to Kent. He and Louisa have four children now and they live in Rainham, where Edwin works as a Political Agent.
Herbert was keen to make his own way in the world, however, and worked as an apprentice watchmaker and jeweller in both Rainham and nearby Sittingbourne.
He enlisted relatively late into the war; his service records show that Air Mechanic Holdstock started his Royal Air Force service on 20th June 1918. He was stationed in South London.
While there, he contracted pneumonia and was hospitalised. Within a week, Herbert had passed away. He was just 21 years old.
The local newspaper reported on his funeral:
Only so recently as November Mr EC Holsdtock of Orchard-street, Rainham, the Secretary of the Sittingbourne District War Pensions Committee, sustained a sad bereavement in the death of his wife [Louisa], who succumbed to an attack of influenza and pneumonia. Mr Holdstock has now suffered another bereavement in the death of his second son, Herbert Frederick Victor Holdstock, who died in the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich… A little over eight months ago he joined the Royal Air Force, as a mechanic, as was stationed at Kidbrook, near Woolwich. Never robust, he contracted pneumonia, and after a week’s illness succumbed. He was a bright, cheery young man, and much liked.East Kent Gazette: Saturday 1st March 1919.
Air Mechanic Herbert Holdstock lies at rest in the graveyard of St Margaret’s Church in Rainham, Kent.