Saluting Green Howards VC hero Stan Hollis on the centenary of his birth (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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VC hero's son and daughter guest of honour at Loftus ceremony
SALUTING A HERO: Stan Hollis’ daughter, Pauline Armistead, seated, and son Brian Hollis, behind her, take part in the tribute
A CEREMONY has been held to mark the centenary of the birth of a war hero who was the only man to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the D-Day landings.
Company Sergeant Major Stan Hollis, of The Green Howards, was awarded the VC by King George VI for two acts of exceptional bravery.
After landing on the beach, CSM Hollis cleared an enemy stronghold while he and his men were under fire from German soldiers, killing two and capturing the remainder.
Later the same day, CSM Hollis attacked a field gun, and was grazed on the right cheek by a sniper’s bullet before he destroyed the gun position.
Then, under fire, he diverted the enemy while two of his men, who were trapped by the Germans, escaped.
Yesterday, his son and daughter were guests of honour at a commemoration service and plaque unveiling in Loftus , east Cleveland.
Veterans from the Green Howards and local dignitaries, including the mayors of Redcar and Cleveland, Whitby and Loftus, and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop all attended the ceremony to mark their respects for a truly heroic man.
His daughter, Pauline Armistead, 74, of Redcar, east Cleveland, said: “I’m really impressed that so many people have turned out in memory our my father – it is really good that people haven’t forgotten about him.”
Mr Hollis’ son Brian, 78, of Middlesbrough, added: “This is a very proud moment for all of our family and it is fantastic that he will always be remembered.”
The service, which was organised by Loftus Town Council, was performed by Father Adam Gaunt, the Rector of St Leonard’s Parish Church, Loftus.
Speaking after the service, Charlie Daynes, from Guisborough , who served with the Green Howards in Korea during his national service, said: “It is a true honour to come here and remember one of our bravest soldiers. Everyone is very proud of the Green Howards and it will be a travesty if the name is lost.”
After the war, CSM Hollis returned to his parents’ fish shop in North Ormesby, before becoming a sandblaster in a nearby steelworks. For a couple of years he worked in a garage in Darlington, before running a pub called The Green Howard in North Ormesby.
The father-of-two, who died in 1972, kept his VC in a drawer along with his collection of bottle-tops.
* COMPANY Sergeant Major Hollis was 31 and a Warrant Officer Class II (Company Sergeant Major) in the 6th Battalion, Green Howards, British Army during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
His citation for the honour reads: “In Normandy on June 6, 1944, Company Sergeant Major Hollis went with his company commander to investigate two German pill-boxes which had been by-passed as the company moved inland from the beaches.
“Hollis instantly rushed straight at the pillbox, firing his Sten gun into the first pill-box. He jumped on top of the pillbox, re-charged his magazine, threw a grenade in through the door and fired his Sten gun into it, killing two Germans and taking the remainder prisoners.
“Later the same day, CSM Hollis pushed right forward to engage the [field] gun with a PIAT from a house at 50 yards range. He later found that two of his men had stayed
behind in the house. In full view of the enemy, who were continually firing at him, he went forward alone to distract their
attention from the other men. Under cover of his diversion, the two men were able to get back.
“Wherever the fighting was heaviest heappeared, displaying the utmost gallantry. It was largely through his heroism and resource that the company’s objectives were gained
and casualties were not heavier... he
saved the lives of many of his men."
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