Thomas Holgate’s Diary

Telephone Station

This is from handwritten notes filed with the manuscript of Thomas Holgate’s World War One diary. They date from January 1984.

In going through family papers recently; I came across a carbon copy of a typescript version of part of a diary kept by my late father’s brother. The period covered is 24th January to 15th June 1917, with short entries for 16th and 17th June added by my father. My father’s brother was rifleman T (Thomas) Holgate 2651 “C” Coy Signals, 2nd Battalion L.R.B. (2/5th City of London Regiment). There are 23 pages of quarto typescript, some entries being very brief and factual, but some quite detailed and descriptive.

Someone else has added these notes about the family.

Ben Holgate was born in Hulme about 1890. Tom was his elder brother.
The family lived at a number of addresses in Hulme or Chorlton. At one period the mother was a lodge keeper on the Longford estate.
Ben attended Manchester Grammar School as a scholarship boy while Paton was High Master.
On leaving school both boys were employed by the Refuge Assurance Company. At the outbreak of the 1914-18 war Ben was working for an insurance company in London. This was presumably why the brothers enlisted in the London Rifle Brigade. From 1928 until 1955 Ben was the actuary of the CIS in Manchester and lived in Wilmslow.

It’s noticeable that brothers often enlisted and served together. We are all familiar with the Pals regiments, and their impact on communities as men from the same neighbourhood fought and died together. It’s impossible not to think of the anxiety and anguish suffered by parents and siblings at home.The uncertainty of having one son in the trenches would be bad enough, but two or more at the front must surely have magnified the stress.
There was of course a sense of pride and sacrifice too. The Great War was seen as a just cause by so many at the time. Now we have the opportunity to look at it from so many other angles, using archive collections nationally and internationally, during this centenary year.
Over the months to come, I will be sharing wartime diary posts through this blog. They contain humour, tragedy, new insights and significant eye witness accounts.
Thomas Holgate’s diary will be included, as well as the diary and letters of George Bradshaw, a hospital orderly. Arthur Sanders served on a hospital ship serving Egypt and Turkey and his diary entries cover Gallipoli and the sinking of the Royal Edward.
These are not official war time diaries, and they are all the more remarkable because like photography ,this kind of recording was not encouraged or sanctioned.

It has been  a privilege to read their accounts and get a sense of their wartime experiences. These men live again through these shared transcripts.

3 thoughts on “Thomas Holgate’s Diary

  1. Paul Adams


    I am very interested in the diary entries of the two brothers. Is this information available to read?

    I work at Z-arts in Hulme and I am looking into research around the Hulme area for WW1 to put together an education programme
    for schools.

    I want to invest the programme in a personal account. Linking to local history will allow the young people to get a ‘real’ sense and connection to the First World War.

    I would love to learn more about Greater Manchester’s WW1, but also with a focus of Hulme.

    Is it possible to arrange a meeting?

    Thank you in advance for your time.

    I’m really enjoying your blog.



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