Thomas Holman, great-grandfather of Carl Watts, the Green Howard Museum’s Learning Officer, worked as a boiler maker at the Wellington Foundry in Lincoln. At the outbreak of war the company which owned the foundry, Fosters, converted production from agricultural vehicles to war machinery. It was here that the first tanks were developed under the management of William Tritton.
Secrecy was of the utmost importance, and the original code name for the revolutionary new vehicle was ‘The water-carrier for Mesopotamia and Russia’. Bill Rigby, chief draughtsman and designer recounted in the mid-1980s that eventually a group of the boiler makers came to is office, fed up with the long winded code name. Their suggestion that it should just be referred to as ‘the bl**dy tank!’ has stuck with the vehicle and its successors ever since.
Thomas Holman is pictured with colleagues back row, third from the left in front of ‘Lurcher’ a Mark IV male tank in November 1917.
His brother George Edward Holman served with the 6th battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at Gallipoli, Egypt and France. The efforts of the brothers were combined on 15 September 1916, as 6th Lincs were at the Battle of Flers Courcelette – the first battle to see the use of the tank.
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John Malcolm Osborne, submitter Jackie Wilson’s father, was born on 14th October 1888 to Frederick Osborne and Lydia Lindridge in Goudhurst Kent, having 7 siblings. In 1911 he was living at home in Goudhurst, Kent working as a motor mechanic. During the First World War he joined the Royal Naval Air Service on the 22nd October 1915 with the service numbers of 208815 and F 8815, before the creation of the Royal Air Force by the merger of the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps on 1 April 1918. His papers record that he was five feet seven and a half inches tall, had brown hair and grey eyes, with a fresh complexion. He was stationed at President II, a shore based depot at White City, London. When called to a Zeppelin crash site, John removed the propeller as a souvenir. At a later date the propeller was fashioned into a walking stick. A clock was also made from the remains of the propeller, owned by Jackie’s Godfather. John Osborne was transferred to the reserve in April 1919 and discharged April 1920. John married Florence Huddlestone in Shepherd’s Bush, London, 3rd March 1918. In the 1930s he lived in Hammersmith with his wife before they moved to Cambridge. He died on the 4th February 1953 at Chesterton Hospital, Cambridge, leaving effects of £224 14s 6d to his widow Florence Maud Osborne.
This is 65038 Private Samuel Revel Staite, born in 1878, a native of Leeds and self-employed house painter. He joined the army in Leeds on 11th December 1915, at the age of 37. He saw service with the Royal Engineers and the Northumberland Fusiliers. He served with the 6th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment in North Russia 1918-1919. After the war he returned to his job as a painter. His own son intended to enlist when the Second World War broke out, however, he was employed in a reserved occupation, so Samuel did not have to see him off to war. Samuel died in 1944. Members of the family still live in Leeds. Samuel’s grand daughters Philippa and Deborah brought their treasured family possessions into the museum for us to take care of. Their items relate to his service in Russia in 1918 and 1919, and will help us add to our collections of items from this less well known period of Green Howards history.
Arthur was born at Smeaton Hall , Great Smeaton, Northallerton, Yorkshire on the 9th September 1877. He was the son of Colonel A. F. Godman. He was educated at Rugby School and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Yorkshire Regiment in May 1898. Whilst serving in India he wrote two articles for The Green Howrads Gazette. One was about ‘G’ Company’s donkey! Apparently awarded an Army Temperance Medal despite having a taste for alcohol! Advancing to Lieutenant in November 1900 he saw service in Somaliland. Promoted Captain in January 1906 and, after a posting in South Africa, returned to the UK to serve as Adjutant for the University of London Officer Training Corps. He was appointed Staff Captain attached to the 21st Infantry Brigade in 1914. Severely wounded at Ypres on the 30th October 1914, on recovery he was posted to the General Staff in France. Promoted Major in August 1915 he was attached to the 4th Brigade, Royal Flying Corps. He served as Brigade Major during the Battle of the Somme and advanced to Temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Assistant Adjutant General, on the RFC staff from July 1917. By the end of the war he was a Brigadier-General and was confirmed as a Wing Commander in August 1919. The following month he was posted as Assistant Commander, RAF Cranwell. He was posted to RAF HQ India at Simla being promoted to Group Captain in June 1923. Returning the following year to the UK he served consecutively as: Officer Commanding, School of Technical…