Rank: Private
Number: 53345
Unit: 18th Battalion (Western Ontario Regiment) Canadian Infantry
Date of Death: 29 December 1915
Age: 26
Cemetery: La Clytte Military Cemetery, De Klitje, West Vlaanderen, Belgium

At the time of the 1901 Census, the Holland family was living at 5 Brinksway Rioad, Stockport. Mark was the youngest of four children, his older siblings being Samuel (22), Mary (21) and William (19). Mark's father, Samuel was 48. There is no mention of Mrs Holland, although Samuel was not a widower.

Between April and June 1909, Mark married Ellen Leigh, the daughter of local magistrate George Leigh. They lived at 35 Station Road, Reddish and, by 1915, had two children.

At some point, Mark went to work in Canada, leaving Ellen in Stockport. His army attestation papers have not been released in digital form by the Canadian National Archives, so nothing is known about his time there. His full service record is available at the Archives, but accessing it is not within the scope of this project.

The 18th Battalion was formed in May 1915 and this will have been when Mark enlisted. The troops went to France in the September. Three months later, they were in a rest camp at La Clytte (now De Klitje), some 8 kilometres west of Ypres (now Ieper). Lt James Bessom wrote to Ellen describing what happened:-

"We were at the rest camp which the Germans shelled pretty heavily. Mark and I stopped to talk to some men of our Company. After a while, I thought all safe and decided to walk to our billet about 50yards up the road. Mark said he would follow me. I had not gone 10 yards when I heard a shell coming and it hit the corner where the men were standing, killing two. The remainder, four or five in number, all fell flat on the ground and were uninjured. Mark got hit in the lower leg and stomach. He was dead when they took him up. He was buried next morning at 9.30, 30th December. The Colonel, Chaplain and all the officers of "B" Company were present, also several men of my platoon, including Jack Coker. The body was covered with the Union Jack and had as good a funeral as possible. It is a lovely church where he is buried and the graves are well cared for. Mark's will be while I am here. I sympathise with you in your loss for he and I had become, out here, just like brothers. I hope you will bear it bravely. Mark was brave, always cheerful and willing at all times to take all things as they came. We never know whose turn may come next. I have the nose of the shell and will try to send it to you."

La Clytte Cemetery is not at a church and contains many burials brought to it after the Armistice when small burial grounds were closed. . It is probable that Mark's body was originally buried in the church graveyard but moved later. Lt Bessom and Jack Coker appear to have survived the War.

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