Private Eric Holmes
71415 Attached 6th Co. J.R.B.5 (or J.R.B.S.)
47158 14th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment

HolmesEric350Eric was born in 1899 in Jacksdale, son of Edward Holmes and Sarah Elizabeth (nee Brentnall).  Eric’s father was a boot maker , repairer and in 1911 they were living at Main Road, Jacksdale. Eric had sisters named Doris and Madge.

The 14th Battalion was formed in June 1918 and landed in France on 30th July 1918. His family has advised that Eric joined up in 1917 after giving a false age. Eric did not really discuss his war experiences with the family. If he was asked what it was like in the trenches, he just explained that you were mostly wading around, waist deep, in water and ‘wee’. He disliked travelling on ships as he was a poor sailor and suffered badly from sea sickness. He was a recipient of the British War and Victory Medals.

After demobilisation and some time before 1928, Eric built up a shoe repair business in a workshop at the rear of his mother’s shop at 31 Main Road, Jacksdale, where he lived and worked until his death in 1956, aged 57. His neighbour, ‘over the wall’ was Sidney Waterfall, who had also served in the Leicesters.

Eric’s father, Edward had been a boot dealer at Selston and moved to Jacksdale sometime between 1904 and 1908. He last appeared in Kelly’s Directory in 1916 and by 1922 his widow Sarah (nee Brentnall) and known to all as Sally had taken over the business.

As a youngster, Eric was occasionally asked to look after his younger sisters. On one occasion he took Madge in her pushchair up Church Hill, at the top of which was a duck pond. Somehow Madge ended up in the middle of the said duck pond, push chair and all! Eric’s help was seldom sought after this.

Eric was married to Eva (nee Phillips) at St. Helen’s Church, Selston and they had two daughters Eileen and Edwin.  Eva worked in ‘Style & Mantels’ Ladies outfitters in Nottingham, owned by the Hutton’s Firm.

Eric was a popular man and always welcomed visitors. Many of his friends would call into the shop and chat with Eric while he was at work. His handiwork was of a high standard and Eric used traditional cobbling techniques such as hand stitching and hot waxing. He was a regular visitor to the nearby Miners Welfare where Eric enjoyed a game of billiards or cards.

Eileen and Edwina attended Jacksdale School. Eileen has vivid memories of her father’s shop and describes her father as fastidious. The shop was well equipped and ‘spick and span’ at all times. Eric’s workbench was near the window to gain as much natural light as possible. To his right was a highly polished wooden counter and desk. On the left, a coal fire glowed brightly in the hearth and many a customer or visitor stood warming their back to the fire whilst chatting with Eric. A large finishing machine stood towards the back of the shop, which was originally foot operated and later ran on electricity. Many traders and sales representatives visited the shop to show Eric their wares, but Eric travelled to Nottingham by bus to choose sides of leather, which were very expensive. ‘Travellers’ later delivered the leather. As the shop used one room on the ground floor, this left the family with only one living room to the rear, which served both as a sitting room and dining room. When the family sat down to eat, Eileen always sat on the seat nearest to the shop and it was her job to leave her place at mealtimes should a customer call in to the shop.

Eric’s sister, Doris and husband Jack (Wilson), and Eric’s mother Sally, later lived next door at number 33. The shop premises at the front of number 33 were let to Wrightson’s Corn Merchants. Other local traders were the Wilds, who ran the General Stores & Off Licence on the corner and the butcher at number 25 was ‘W. Walters’.

Eric and Eva’s daughters, Eileen and Edwina were to grow up and marry the Parkin cousins.

Eric died at the age of 57 years, leaving his wife Eva widowed at only 54 years of age. As he died at a relatively young age, sadly, he only knew his two eldest grandchildren.

Information kindly provided by Mrs Eileen Parkin.