Hollies, Sydney James


War Service:
Lance Corporal 260121 SYDNEY JAMES HOLLIES of the Middlesex Hussars was killed in acton on 27 October 1917 in the fighting for Buqqar Ridge in Palestine.

He is buried in Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel .

The Battle of El Buggar Ridge began as a reconnaissance in force by the Ottoman forces to test the strength of the Allied defensive perimeter around the newly opened rail head and supply station of Karm. It ended in a battle which progressively drew in more Allied forces until they were able to eject the Ottoman forces from the trenches on El Buggar Ridge.

The Official History of the War includes this account of the Middlesex Hussars part in the battle : ”After a quiet night, a post west of Bir el Girheir, where a troop of the Middlesex Yeomanry under Captain A. McDougall was dug in, was suddenly attacked in great strength at 4.10 a.m. on the morning of the 27th. Two troops of the Middlesex from support were sent forward to work round to the right of the post. In face of heavy fire they advanced to within view of it, to find that it was almost surrounded by the enemy. A squadron of the City of London Yeomanry from reserve, under Major L. P. Stedall, succeeded in reaching a very slight hummock 200 yards south of the hill occupied by the post. It was here under very heavy machine-gun fire and was pinned to the ground. Yet though it could not reach the post, it prevented the enemy from surrounding it completely.The Middlesex troop itself made a magnificent defence all day in a support trench, until late in the afternoon the advance of infantry of the 53rd Division induced the enemy to withdraw.

The right-hand post of two troops of B Squadron north of El Baqqar had less good fortune. It also was attacked by several squadrons, which, sweeping round its right, forced the guns of the Hants Battery to withdraw. Here, too, relieving troops failed to reach the position, though they prevented the enemy from making further progress. The last message from Major A. M. Lafone, in command of the post, contained the words, "I shall hold on to the last." A little later a mass of Turkish cavalry was seen to surge right over the position. It had then held out for seven hours. There were only three survivors of the garrison of this post. They related that it was heavily and persistently shelled by the enemy in the intervals between mounted attacks. One charge was brought to a halt almost on the lip of the trench, 15 dead being counted within 20 yards of it. Finally the garrison was reduced to five who withdrew to a trench just behind the original line. Major Lafone sprang out into the open to meet the last charge and was ridden down. He received a posthumous award of the Victoria Cross.

The total losses of the 8th Mounted Brigade in this very gallant action were 110 officers and 69 other ranks mostly belonging to the two posts of the Middlesex Yeomanry. The resistance of these posts in face of overwhelming odds had prevented the enemy from taking advantage of this reconnaissance in force , perhaps by digging himself in upon the position. Had he done so, he could have rendered work on the railway impossible, and would have been extremely difficult to dislodge. "

Location of Memorial:
He is remembered on the memorial at Haberdashers' Askes’s school in New Cross.

He was 24 years old, the son of Joseph and Anne Hollies, of 40, Manor Rd., Brockley.

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Contributed By: Andy Pepper

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