Holland, Christopher


He was the only son of Godfrey Holland, of Plummer’s Plain House, near Horsham, Sussex, and Violet Houssemayne Holland (daughter of Colonel W.G. Houssemayne Du Boulay, of Cheltenham). He came to Moberly’s from Copthorne in May 1936.

He, and his friend, Reginald Gleadowe, who followed one term later from Copthorne,  made their mark on the river: as stroke and ‘3’ respectively they won many races: together they reached School IV and School VIII in 1940, and while Reginald became President of Boat Club, Christopher became captain of VI .    Together they became House Prefects and School Prefects a year later.   Holland played in XVs but was less suited to VIs.  Patrick Delaforce, his contemporary in the house (B 1937-1942) described Holland as follows:  “Holland was tall and handsome, with a good complexion. An excellent Winchester Football forward and oarsman, he was very good friends with Reginald Gleadowe (1936-1940), who became a talented sculptor and artist (he was the designer of the Stalingrad Sword). They persuaded me to be coxwain of the School IV which raced (bumping only) on the River Itchen. It was marvellous, aged fifteen, bossing four huge eighteen-year-olds and telling them exactly what they had to do. Holland was very intelligent and Gleadowe even more so…Christopher and I were friends – just liked each other”.  (Delaforce in conversation with Shaun Hullis, 2009).

Leaving Winchester in December 1940, he began his RAF training in March, and in June went to Canada. In December 1941 he passed out top of his class with his commission as a Pilot Officer and gaining his ‘wings’. On his return to England he was trained as an instructor and employed as such for many months. He was promoted to Flying Officer in July 1942, and to Flight Lieutenant in November 1943, but was unhappy at the inaction and transferred to training for operational flying in Lancasters.

He had only been on operations for three weeks when, on the night of August 12th-13th 1944, he was killed in a night raid on Brunswick with all but one of his fellow crew-members.

Lancaster LM658 ‘HW-W’ was a brand-new aircraft with only twelve hours on the clock: as one crewman explained in his last letter home before that night’s mission:  “We lost our old aircraft S-Sugar and are waiting for a new one.  I hope it will be as good as our old ‘S’.”

Holland was acting as Second Pilot. His companions were Flight Lieutenant C.S. Paston-Williams (pilot), Pilot Officer Hood, Flight Sergeant L.R. Watts (wireless operator/ air gunner), Pilot Officer B. Ramsden (at thirty-five, somewhat old for a bomb-aimer), Flying Officer B.A. David RCAF, Sergeant J.A. Downie, and Flight Sergeant R.S. Williams (mid-upper gunner). It is unclear why the Lancaster was carrying one more than its usual crew of seven: one may have been serving as a second wireless operator.

LM658 got airborne from Grimsby at 2145 on August 12th 1944. However, it was hit by flak and broke in two, coming down between Bergentheim and Hardenberg in the central Netherlands. The four survivors of the crash were Paston-Williams, David, Downie and Hood: the first three successfully evaded capture, but Hood was handed over to the Gestapo and executed at Almelo in March 1945.

Holland was twenty-one years old when he died, and is buried in grave A.3 of the Hardenberg Protestant Cemetery.

 

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Holland
  • Forenames or initials: Christopher
  • House: B
  • Years in School: 1936-1940
  • Rank: Flight Lieutenant
  • Regiment: RAF (RAF Volunteer Reserve)
  • Date of Birth: 29th September 1922
  • Date of Death: 13th August 1944
  • How Died: Killed in Action
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner B1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Hardenberg Protestant Cemetery, Holland: Grave A.3