THE son and daughter of the only man awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on D-Day remembered their father as they received an award in his name today (Tuesday, June 3).
Brian Hollis and Pauline Armistead accepted the Teesside Heroes Award from Teesside Philanthropic Foundation in the week of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Company Sergeant Stan Hollis, who was born in Middlesbrough, won the VC for two actions in the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944, either of which would have won him the medal.
Before accepting the award at Middlesbrough’s Dorman Musuem, Brian Hollis, 82, gave a rare interview about his father who died in 1972 in his late 50s.
“I get asked regular about what my dad said about the war,” said Mr Hollis, “but he didn’t talk about it much. If it was pigeons you wanted to talk about, you were fine, but not the war. But he was very, very proud of his Green Howards regiment, that was for sure.”
Mr Hollis remembered accompanying his father, who he described as a “pleasant, quiet man, and a very good father,” to receive his VC from the King.
He said: “The war must still have been on because there were air raids. I remember my mother, my sister and me sitting on these kind of gold chairs at the palace and an usher in his livery moving us to some others.
“There was my dad, in front of us, talking to the King, and he turned round and waved at me to come up.
“I went up to the stage and the King said, ‘you must be very proud of your father.”
At that point Mr Hollis shed a tear, before continuing. “I just said, ‘yes sir.’”
Years later the family were with CSM Hollis when a statue was unveiled to him at Crepon, France. Mr Hollis said his father talked a little about what happened that day.
Mrs Armistead also remembered her father, who ran a pub at Liverton Mines for many years after the war, as a modest man, who would keep his VC in a pub drawer with the bottle tops.
She said her father had not been a model soldier during training at Catterick, but would come home at weekends to see his family, later getting into trouble back at base.
“He was a lovely, lovely man,” she said.
The Teesside Heroes Award includes £1,000 for a local good cause, which Pauline plans to donate towards an exhibition commemorating her father’s heroics at Middlesbrough’s Dorman Museum.