Bertie Holgate was born and raised in Chelmsford. After working as an errands boy he joined the army late in 1913. After the outbreak of the war he was sent to Gallipoli in 1915 where he was wounded in the head and legs. After recovery in England he returned to the Front in January 1917. He died from further wounds in August 1917. His home was in South Primrose Hill.
Private, 16th (Service) Battalion (Cardiff City), Welsh Regiment (formerly of the Essex Regiment)
Bertie’s father died in 1898, aged 46.
Three years later the 1901 census recorded six year-old Bertie living with his widowed mother and two siblings at 42 South Primrose Hill (today’s number 41). His mother was a charwoman. In 1911 the census found 17 year-old Bertie living with his widowed mother at the same property which had been renumbered in the intervening period as 56. He was a jeweller’s errand boy and his mother, a charwoman.
Bertie was born in Chelmsford on 21st August 1894, the youngest child of the carpenter Walter Holgate and Susan Holgate (nee Paveley). He was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Chelmsford ten days later at which time Bertie’s father was described as carpenter of 42 Primrose Terrace (today’s 41 South Primrose Hill).
Bertie’s father had been born in 1852 in Henham; his mother in 1858 in Pleshey or Great Waltam (records contradict).
They had married on 27th May 1883 at St. John’s Church in Moulsham. At the time Bertie’s father was aged 31, employed as a carpenter and lived at High Street, Chelmsford. Bertie’s mother was 25 years old and lived in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford.
Two years before his marriage Bertie’s father had been lodging in Bertie’s mother’s household.
At the time of the 1891 census Walter’s parents and elder siblings had been living at Carpenters. Forest Hall, High Ongar, where his father was a carpenter.
Bertie’s six siblings were: John Arthur Holgate (born in 1878 in Chelmsford), Thomas Holgate (1881-1889), Walter Frederick Holgate (born in 1885 in Chelmsford, died in 1891), Lily Ann Holgate (1887-1888). Florence Holgate (born in 1890 in Chelmsford, died 1925) and Ellen Holgate (born in 1892 in High Ongar, died 1984). Three of them died by 1892.
Bertie enlisted at Chelmsford late in 1913 and served as 2007 and 35945 in the Essex Regiment. He may have served in the 5th Battalion of the regiment, a Territorial unit, based in Chelmsford, containing many Chelmsford men. It sailed from Devonport, Devon for Gallipoli via Lemnos on 21st July 1915, and landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on 12th August 1915. Bertie was wounded at Suvla Bay, and subsequently was evacuated to hospital in England, while the 5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment moved on to Egypt and then Palestine.
After release from hospital Bertie went to France in January 1917 and served with the 16th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment as Private 54889. He died from wounds on 4th August 1917 while attached to the Machine Gun Corps. He was aged 23.
The Essex Weekly News carried the following report of his death on 17th August 1917:
“Pte. B. Holgate, M.G.C., attached Welsh Regt., son of Mrs. S. Holgate, 68, South Primrose-hill, Chelmsford. died on Aug. 4th from wounds received the previous week. He joined the Essex Regt. ten months before the outbreak of war and went with the regiment to Gallipoli, being wounded at Suvla Bay in the head and legs. After being in hospital in England for some months he went to the Front in January of this year. He was 23 years of age.”
A week later the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Pt. B. Holgate, M.C.G., att. Welsh Regt., son of Mrs. S. Holgate, 69 South Primrose Hill, Chelmsford, died on Aug. 4 from wounds received the previous week. He joined the Essex Regt, ten months before the outbreak of war, and went with the regiment to Gallipoli, being wounded at Suvla Bay in the head and legs. He went to the Front again in January of this year. He was 23.”
Bertie is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, some 27 kilometres south of Boulogne, France (grave: XXII. O. 21). During the War Etaples was a major hospital centre for the Allied armies and the majority of the ten thousand Allied burials in the cemetery are men who died in those hospitals having been brought there from the front.
Bertie is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford (which records his regiment as ‘Welch’) and by the Chelmsford Parish Great War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral. He was entitled to the Victory, British War and 1915 Star medals.
The 1918 register of electors listed Bertie’s widowed mother at the same property as in 1901 and 1911, but bearing the number 68 (which later renumbered again to become today’s number 41).
Bertie’s sister Florence died in 1925 from pneumonia days after giving birth to a daughter who also died. Bertie’s mother died in 1935, aged 77.
Bertie was one of the ‘South Primrose Hill Boys’.