Gunner David Holden
741318 Royal Regiment of Artillery (Royal Garrison Artillery)

David Holden was born in 1888 at Ironville, Derbyshire son of James and Margaret Holden. He also had a younger brother named James William Holden. David grew up at Furnace and later Foundry Row, Ironville. His father James was an ironworks moulder. Sometime after 1900 the family moved to Jacksdale and by 1909 was living in Laverick Road.

Back in 1908, James’ father caused a local (then later National) sensation, when he attempted the ‘Double Murder’ of his wife Margaret and her suspected lover, George William Barlow. David was present at the time of the incident that occurred on the 29th October 1908, at their home on Laverick Road, Jacksdale. He was a witness at his father’s trial. His father had attacked his wife and her purported lover with a hatchet, Barlow later dying of his injuries. His wife was severely injured, but survived. She had previously been injured in a train accident at some time, having had to have a leg amputated. David’s father served seven years penal servitude for his crime and in 1911 was an inmate at Maidstone Prison in Kent. A petition at the time appealing for clemency was delivered to the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill. Local support ran high for James Holden who was generally known to be a steady, quiet man and a good father. 4,000 locals signed the petition for clemency and 1,400 had personally contributed towards James Holden’s legal defence costs.

David married Amelia Burton Smith in 1912 at Westwood, St. Mary’s, (sister of Charles and Thomas Burton also Jacksdale veterans of WW1) and they had children James Edgar b. 1912, who sadly only lived for 4 months and is buried at Westwood, St. Mary’s;  Harry born 1914 in Jacksdale, Dorothy Mavis b.1918, David b. 1923  and possibly a son named John b. 1934. David and Amelia lived in Sedgwick Street, Jacksdale at the time.

David attested in December 1915 and was mobilised at Derby on 8th July 1915. At time of attestation he was 28 years old and gave his occupation as grocer’s assistant for the Co-operative Wholesale Society. His height was 5ft 9 inches. He served for nearly three years and in early 1917 was appointed to the rank of Acting Bombardier. However, David suffered with varicose veins for which there was no treatment at that time, plus a shortness of breath and palpitations due to any form of exertion, which had been aggravated by his military service. His medical record states: ‘Had slight varicose veins in the left thigh when he joined the Army, but now these extend to the ankle and there are also varicose veins in the right leg.’  The condition had been discovered in September 1917 and in April 1918 the army found him physically unfit for military service and he was discharged with a pension. He was awarded a gratuity of £27 10s. We have been unable to locate any record of either medals or Silver War Badge being issued.

After his army years, David, started a Greengrocery business on Main Road, Jacksdale and later became a manager at the Co-op. It seems that whatever happened on that tragic night in October 1908, David and his family were still welcome in the village and the sins of the father had not come to rest on his sons.  Later on, David moved on to to be a publican at ‘The Staff of Life’, Sutton, and also the ‘Roebuck’ and ‘Baseball Hotel’ in Derby.

David’s son Harry served during WW2 and was a prisoner of war at Changi, Singapore.