Robert Hollingsworth

Private 26907, 12th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment

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Robert Hollingsworth is one of the men named on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 Servicemen.

Family background

Robert Hollingsworth was born in 1879 in Bottesford, the son of Joseph and Harriett Hollingsworth. Joseph Hollingsworth was born in Easthorpe in 1831, Harriett in Churton, Cheshire, in about 1838.

In 1881, the family lived in the Mount Pleasant cottages, later known as Bunkers Hill. Robert was one year old, the youngest of five children. Joseph, his father, was a railway labourer. They were living at the same place, now called the Bunker Hill Cottages, in 1891, when Joseph described himself as a railway platelayer, the oldest son John was an ironstone labourer, and 11 year old Robert was at school. By 1901, Robert had begun working as a general labourer, still living at Bunker Hill with his parents. His father was now 71, describing himself as a cottager. Moving on to the 1911 census, Robert, now a 32 year old single agricultural labourer, was still at home with his 82 year old father, now describing himself as a “cottager and old age pensioner”, and his 76 year old mother.

Service record

His attestation paper, endorsed by Daniel Daybell, who probably was his employer in Bottesford, is dated 10th Dec. 1915; he was mobilized on the 1st April 1916. He joined up as Private 26907, 12th Leicestershires, and was 37 years old, a single man. In addition to periods stationed on the Home Front, he was in France from the 11th July 1916 to the 21st November 1916, a period which encompassed much of the Battle of the Somme. The 12th was a Reserve Battalion, formed at Leicester in March 1916. It moved to the Newcastle area in July 1916, then on the 1st September, 1916, was converted into the 83rd Training Reserve Battalion of 19th Reserve Brigade (information from The Long Long Trail website).

On the 21st November he was taken back to England from Etaples aboard the Hospital Ship “Jan Breydel”. This was a turbine steamer belonging to the well-Belgian shipping company RMT, founded in 1846. The Wartime Memories Project (website) tells us that: “SS Jan Breydel was a Belgian Steam Ship which helped evacuate Belgian government and members of it’s Royal Family to Britain during WW1. It was then used as a hospital ship to evacuate wounded from France and Belgium.”

A note added to Robert Hollingsworth’s service record in March 1917 states “Not to be Compulsorily Posted for Service …”, which appears to follow on from a medical board he had on the 22nd February at which he was declared medically unfit due to ‘Double pes planus Varicose Veins’ said to have been an injury sustained some 20 years previously, “neither the result of nor aggravated by military service”. During 1917, while remaining in England unfit for the Front Line, he was transferred twice, to the 6th Bn and then to the 7th Bn of the Leicestershires before finally being discharged on the 20th November, 1917. He was awarded the Victory Medal and British War Medal.

After the end of the war

In the 1939 Register, Robert Hollingworth was a small-holder grazier, single, living on Station Road, Bottesford. He died on the 1st May, 1949, at Carlton Hayes Hospital, Narborough, Leicester. He was buried in Bottesford on the 5th May. He had been living at Station Road, Narborough.

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