For Local History Month, Chloe Tempestoso takes a look at one of our local heroes, Stanley Hollis.
Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis was an unlikely war hero. A navigation officer born in 1912 in Middlesbrough, he was the only man to be honoured by the Victoria Cross for his efforts in D-Day in 1944.
At the age of 12, Stanley Hollis joined his father’s business and worked in the family fish shop for five years until he became an apprentice navigation officer with Rowland & Marwood Steamship Company of Whitby.
He joined the Territorial Army’s 4th Battalion, The Green Howards in 1939, just before Second World War began, whilst working as a lorry driver for the Crossley Brick Company in Middlesbrough.
His life changed in April 1940 when he was ordered to France as a member of the 6th Battalion, The Green Howards, where he joined the British Expeditionary Force and was employed as his commanding officer’s dispatch rider.
But it was his actions on June 6th 1944 that earned him his celebration as the soldier’s soldier. As day broke, Stanley Hollis was one of the first soldiers to land in Normandy with his fellow soldiers as they were welcomed by gunfire and hand grenades. After they went towards Mont Fleury Battery, the commanding officer discovered two German-held pillboxes that had been bypassed… Hollis went to check. When he was only twenty yards from the pillbox, machinegun fire erupted. A brave Stanley Hollis went towards it and fired his gun. He climbed on top of the pillbox before throwing a grenade through the door and firing his Sten gun. Amid the action, he killed two enemy soldiers and took others prisoner whilst saving his fellow soldiers from fire.
His D-Day efforts were far from over though. Stanley Hollis was in charge of a number of soldiers in the village of Crepon when they were met with enemy troops. Despite being struck by a sniper’s bullet on his right cheek, the heroic soldier and his party killed two enemy soldiers and seized their weapons. When the Middlesbrough-born Hollis later realised that two of his men were trapped in a house, he went forward on his own, fired at the enemy and freed the soldiers.
Recognised for his bravery on August 17th 1944, Stanley Hollis was awarded the Victoria Cross by the King. Stanley Hollis is one of the bravest people Middlesbrough has ever seen and the people of Teesside should be proud of this Teesside hero. When he left the army in 1945, he worked for the local steel works and lived in Liverton Mines. he lived until 1972 and is buried in Acklam cemetery.
RIP Stanley Hollis… you will never be forgotten by the people of Teesside.
Article by Chloe Tempestoso