Ben Holbrook

Labour Corps

Personal Details

Born: In 1873 in Whitchurch, Shropshire.

Family: He was the fourth of five children born to Benjamin Holbrook, a bricklayer and his wife Ann. The 1911 Census records Ben and Elizabeth Clarke having six children, Doris, Robert, Annie, Edward, James and Alfred. However Doris and Robert are probably from Elizabeth`s marriage to Robert Clarke (who died in 1901). Another child, Benjamin was born to the couple in 1914, according to military records.

Residence: On the 1881 and 1891 Census, he was living at 20 Newtown Street, Whitchurch. In 1911 his address was 96 Moor Street, Blackburn, Lancashire. On his military documents an address of 16 Smithies Street, Blackburn was given for him.

Employment: In 1891, 1911 and 1914 he was a labourer.

Died: 1926 in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Military Details

Regiment: Labour Corps (previously King`s Shropshire Light Infantry)

Rank: Private

Service Number: 474391 (previously 7712)

Date of Enlistment: 12 October 1914

Date of Discharge: 9 April 1919

Reason for Discharge: Demobilisation

Other Information: Prior to WW1 he had served in the King`s Shropshire Light Infantry (3585) from 31 December 1891 to 30 December 1903 (including in the Boer War). After WW1 he re-enlisted and served from 2 August 1919 to 23 January 1920 in the Norfolk Regiment (73375). His brother James also served in WW 1.

Medals and Awards

Ben was awarded the Campaign Medals (1915 Star, British War medal and Victory medal)

Campaign Medals

Great War History Hub Whitchurch Shropshire Medals Front Image

The 1914 Star (also known as 'Pip') was authorised under Special Army Order no. 350 in November 1917 and by an Admiralty Fleet Order in 1918, for award to officers and men of the British and Indian Expeditionary Forces who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and midnight of 22–23 November 1914. The former date is the day after Britain's declaration of war against the Central Powers, and the closing date marks the end of the First Battle of Ypres.

The 1914–15 Star (also known as 'Pip') was instituted in December 1918 and was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served against the Central European Powers in any theatre of the Great War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. The period of eligibility was prior to the introduction of the Military Service Act 1916, which instituted conscription in Britain.

The British War Medal (also known as 'Squeak') was a silver or bronze medal awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920. Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued. Approximately 6.4 million of these were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Allied Victory Medal (also known as 'Wilfred') was issued by each of the allies. It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon. The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory. Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal ('Squeak') also received the Victory Medal ('Wilfred'). However, in general, all recipients of 'Wilfred' also received 'Squeak' and all recipients of The 1914 Star or The 1914/1915 Star (also known as 'Pip') also received both 'Squeak' and 'Wilfred'. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.


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