While in St Andrews Church Burnham-on-Sea, we came across this plaque; it’s not very clear, partly because it was in a difficult place for me to photograph, but also because it was darkened by age.
‘To the memory of Cecil William Holt, midshipman, who drowned in action at sea 22nd September 1914, aged 15. Second son of Thomas and Margaret Jane Holt of the Hall in this parish. Also of Arthur Edward Holt, 2nd Lieutenant RGA, died of his wounds near Ypres Flanders, 25th October 1917, aged 19, eldest son of the above. Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas, ease after warre, death after life does grreatly please’
How tragic! How awful! For a family to lose a 15 year-old in the first weeks of the war, fifteen! Three years before Cecil, who had been born in 1899, had been at a boarding school in Weymouth on the south coast, Portmore House School in Rodwell, along with his brother Arthur. Three years later Cecil may have been involved and died as a result of an engagement between three old cruisers and a German U-boat where 1,459 killed British sailors were killed, with the loss of none on the German side … but that is a whole different story. However, it is a hundred years ago today that Cecil lost his life…
Cecil William was born to a wealthy Somerset family of the Holts; his father Thomas originally from London was the director of a brewery in Burnham-on-Sea and the family lived in the Hall; they must have been quite wealthy because Thomas, his wife Margaret from Wedmore in Somerset, and two little boys, Arthur aged two and Cecil aged one, had six servants. The Holts had one more child in 1905, another boy Ernest Gerald.
As if losing one young son so tragically serving his country, the Holts lost their eldest son Arthur who served in the Royal Garrison Artillery; he died near Ypres three years after they lost Cecil.
Cecil and Arthur gave their lives, Thomas and Margaret Holt gave their young sons.