Battle legacy a dark shadow

When the call to join World War I went out, many of those who signed up were very young men.

So it is not uncommon to find in the extensive records held by the National Archives documents that detail how parents of men under the age of 21 gave permission for their sons to enlist.

Among the young West Australian men who needed such permission was Ernest Charles Holloway, a labourer aged just 19 when he signed on.

His enlistment papers carried permission given by his father, Joseph Holloway.

Joseph had arrived in the Swan River Colony as a convict in 1863, and Ernest was the 11th child of Joseph and Elizabeth Holloway.

Ernest Holloway was assigned to the 16th Battalion reinforcements after he enlisted in June 1915. He embarked for the war in September from Fremantle on the transport vessel Anchises.

He was thrust into action on the Gallipoli peninsula, wounded on November 3 and succumbed to mumps. He was hospitalised then rejoined the unit in December.

The battalion served at Gallipoli until evacuation in December and Holloway was sent to the Western Front in 1916, where in August he was again wounded.

Among his medical records in the archives is a reference to "shell shock" during this period, but they also show he rejoined the unit just a few days later.

Holloway's war took another turn in April 1917 when he was captured at Reincourt, France, and held as a prisoner at Limburg, Germany.

Australian Red Cross "wounded and missing" files in the archives show that in 1918 Holloway was able to send several notes to his family from the PoW camp to let them know he was in the "best of health".

Events that followed showed that perhaps beneath the surface he was not as well as he said.

After about 20 months as a prisoner, Holloway was repatriated to England. He finally headed home in early 1919 and rejoined civilian life. His father had died while Ernest was on his way to the Middle East in 1915.

His mother died shortly after his return to Australia, having welcomed home three sons, including Ernest, who had all fought on the Western Front.

Ernest re-enlisted in July 1920, married Florence Humphrey in 1921, transferred to the Forts at Albany and had six children.

But in 1931 the war cast a dark shadow over the family again.

While stationed at the Albany Forts, Holloway took his own life using his service rifle.

He had suffered from a depressive illness that the family believes was a direct result of the horrors of the war.

Neil Holloway is a grandson of Ernest Charles Holloway

The West Australian

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