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Portrait of Michael James Holland early 1700s
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Capt Michael James Holland MC


of Lullings, Balcombe, Sussex


Born: 25 October 1870 and died 14 May 1956 at Lullings, Balcombe, West Sussex.
Son of: Rev Francis James Holland (1828-1907) and Mary Sibylla Lyall (1836-1891).
Brother of:
1. Bernard Henry Holland (1855-1926) who married Florence Helen Duckworth (1869-1933).
2. Mary Agnes Bolton nee Holland (1858-1928) who married William Henry Bolton (1859-1902).
3. Alfred Dunstan Holland (1859-1869).
4. Lucy Verena Holland (1862-1886).
5. Francis Caldwell Holland (1865-1948) who married Maud Constance Walpole (1870-1949).

Michael married: 6 May 1911 Marion Ada Flora Broadwood (1887-1969).
Michael and Marion had issue:
1. Antony Holland (1913-1982) who married Ann Faure-Walker (1918-2010).
2. David Cuthbert Lyall Holland (1915-2007) who married Rosemary Griffiths (born 1927).

Michael James Holland: An Overview


The following is a copy of his obituary from the Times newspaper.

A Pioneer In Africa
Late Mr M. J. Holland, of Balcombe

Mr Michael James Holland, of Lullings, Balcombe, who died on May 14 at the age of 85, was a link with a generation of pioneers which, 60 years ago, opened up large areas of East and Central Africa for European colonization.

Born in October, 1870, he was the youngest of six children of Canon Francis Holland, of Harbledown and Canterbury. He was educated at Eton, where he boarded with Miss Evans, and his tutor was the Hon. Edward Lyttleton. The first part of his adult life was rather like an old-fashioned adventure story.

After ranching for some years in Alberta, he was, in 1896, appointed Private Secretary and A.D.C. to Sir Herbert Maxwell, who had recently been appointed Governor of the Gold Coast. In those days, West Africa was the "White Man's Grave" in the sense that a high proportion of Europeans regularly died of yellow fever, malaria or black-water fever. Indeed, Sir Herbert Maxwell himself, within two years of his arrival on the Coast, died of black-water fever contracted during his expedition against Samory, a notorious free-booter who had lately wiped out a French punitive column. For this expedition Michael Holland was given command of 500 spear-men of the Krobo tribe; but before their war-like virtues could be put to the test Samory led his army of horse-men into tse-tse fly country and was thus destroyed.

Portrait of Michael James Holland early 1700s
Click for larger image
Michael James Holland
as a child in the early 1870s


With the possible exception of Mr Holland's service during the First World War, the years between 1899 and 1909 were the most active period of his life and furnished enough material, had he chosen to write it down, for a lively book of memoirs. During this time he acquired a sound reputation as a safari leader and led a number of important expeditions for the purpose of exploration and mineral prospecting in Nyasaland, the Belgian Congo and Angola. Employed by Tanganyika Concessions, he fund a lot of copper and mapped out much territory which had been unexplored till then.

In August, 1914, when nearly 44, he enlisted as a trooper in the 2nd King Edward's Horse, a regiment raised by Sir John Norton-Griffiths. He was soon given a commission, and was present at the Battle of Festubert. In 1916, owing to his civilian experience of that part of the world, he was selected for service in East Africa. There he was awarded the Military Cross, at the age of 47, for his successful defence of the fort at M'Kalama, with a scratch force of 26 men with rifles against a German force of about 430 armed with 10 machine-guns and two two-pounder field guns. After the seige was raised he was embarrassed to discover that some Belgian askaris (native soldiers) of the relieving force, who came from a cannibal tribe, had eaten three of the German askaris killed during the action.

During World War II, though in his seventies, he was actively engaged in the Home Guard in his neighbourhood.

Michael Holland was a clever draughtsman and had the makings of a caricaturist. He was well read in English and German literature, and wrote pleasing light verse, some of which was printed privately. His great loves, however, were horses and hunting. He was a good man to hounds and for many years hunted  regularly, first with the East Kent and later wit the Surrey and Burstow.

He married Marion Broadwood, the daughter of Mr Henry Broadwood of Bone Hill, near St Albans, who survives him, together with two sons.


The funeral was conducted in Ardingly Parish Church by the Rev. G. F. Parsons (Rector) on Friday. Many friends sent flowers, and the alter had been beautifully decorated with white lilac and lilies-of-the-valley by Mrs Parsons, assisted by Mrs Gould.

The chief mourners were Mr and Mrs Anthony Holland, Mr and Mrs David Holland, My Robert Lyall, Viscount Knutsford, Mrs John Eastwood, Colonel and Mrs Palmer, Miss Anne Broadwood, Mr and Mrs Leopold Broadwood, Mr Stuart Broadwood, Mr and Mrs Wood, Mr John Wood, Mis Katherine Wood, Captain Evelyn Broadwood, Miss Heath, Mrs Rodophe de  Salis, Lieut Colonel and Mrs H. W. Faure Walker, Loard and Lady Hawke, Mr Roderick and the Hon. Mrs Faure Walker.

Among those also present were Mr M. D. Bannister, Miss M. Baron, Mrs Brack, Mr and Mrs Joe Brown, Sir Ralph and Lady Clarke, Mrs Collins, Mr John Collins, Major Duncan Smith, Mr John Elliot, Mr Bernie Elliot, Mrs Fenwick-Hepworth, Major Flynn, Mr and Mrs Haworth-Booth, Mr L. Kier Hett (also representing Ardingly Branch, British legion), Miss Killick, Miss Leslie, Mr E. H. Munnion, Mr and Mrs Harry Palmer, Mrs Pipon, Sir Walter Scott, Mr Stride (representing Ardingly Football and Cricket Clubs), Commander and Mrs Talbot and Mrs Vines.


Some information supplied to me by Aldwin Roes reads as follows:
The most 'historic' achievement of Michael Holland was that he was the first European to establish the exact location of the copper mines in Katanga, upon which the vast copper industry of the Congo and Katanga would later be built. You can find some references to him in 'Robert's people. The life of Sir Robert Williams, Bart. 1860-1938' by Robert Hutchinson and George Martelli, and also in the company history of the Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK), the Belgian company which took over the Katanga copper mines from the Tanganyika Concessions Ltd. This company history was published in 1956.




Bookplate of 
Michael Holland


Some Memories of Michael Holland have been put together by Richard Palmer who's grandfather worked for Michael  on the family estate of Lullings.  These are as follows:

Childhood Memories of Richard Palmer

My grandfather, Mr AT Pennifold, left the Army in 1910, after serving in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the 6th Dragoons (Caribiniers) and 3rd Dragoons; and returned to his family home in Balcombe, Sussex. He worked for Mr Holland, at Lullings, West Hill, first as a stud groom and and later as chauffeur/groom, and lived at The Cottage, Lullings, until his death in 1941.  According to my grandmother, at the start of WW1, Mr Holland appeared at the door of their cottage and said "Pennifold, we are going to war!" - and they both enlisted as troopers in 2nd King Edwards Horse.  The Regiment landed in France on 4th May 1915, and stayed until August 1917. They were attached to the1st Canadian Division, and for most of that time they were employed as infantry.  Mr Holland was selected for a commission in September 1915, and appointed to the staff of General Smuts in May 1916. I have included a few extracts from the Regimental War Diary to give some idea of their experience during that time.

9th June 1915
At Le Preol. B Squadron building a redoubt.. Relieved at 6pm by Lord Strathcona's Horse. Marched to billets at  Le Quesnoy. Lt Osborne wounded.

10th June 1915
Resting in billets. Very wet day.

12th June 1915
Route march to Bethune.

15th June 1915
Moved to Preol at 4.15am to relieve the Royal Canadian Dragoons in our old billets.

16th June 1915
At 4pm ordered to dig ourselves in on south side of railway. At 9pm ordered to return to our billets at Le Preol.

20th June 1915
Little shelling during day. Squadron Sergeant-Major killed. SQMS and one Sergeant wounded. Furnished working parties most of the night. 24 men laid wire in front of trench, finishing at 3am. No casualties. Weather fine, wind in the East.

9th July 1915
Brigade bombers were mustered during the early hours of the morning. There was a very thick mist and a telephone report that the Germans were attacking. Everyone "stood to arms" but nothing happened and precautions were cancelled. At 4am our howitzers destroyed a suspicious looking mound that probably contained gas or machinery.

12th July 1915
Regiment marched in Bailleul for bathing parade and change of clothes.

7th August 1915
Wet morning. At 2.30pm marched into trenches to relieve Royal Canadian Dragoons. One severe casualty and one slight casualty.

15th September 1915
Furnished a working party of 100 men at 8.30am and a party of 100 men at 7pm. Twelve NCO's and men proceeded to England on receiving Commissions [One of these will have been Mr Michael Holland].

21st September 1915
Good deal of firing during the day. Parapet of Trench 141 blown in at several places. Two casualties. Ration Farm shelled with 11 HE's of small calibre. Machine Gun emplacement of Trench 141 blown in. Whistling and singing heard in the German trenches and one shouted "Stick to it till October and you can have the damned war"

23rd September 1915
Good deal of shelling. At 5.20pm, 31 HE shells were fired at the parapet of Trench 141, causing 1 casualty. At 6.45pm, the exit to the Listening Post having been blocked, the men were forced to climb over the parapet. The enemy opened a Maxim on them and Cpl Dutch was shot, falling on the enemy side of the parapet. He remained there in great danger on account of the continued fire of the Maxim. Cpl Greenland promptly scaled the parapet and brought him to safety. Heavy rain commenced and the trenches were very slippery and muddy. During the night the damaged parapet was repaired. Casualties: Two killed and four wounded.

25th September 1915
Orders issued to ignit Smoke Sacks and throw them over the parapet at 4.54am, but this order postponed for 1 hour. At 4am our artillery commenced heavy bombardment of La Petite Douve Farm and the enemy wire and works. This continued for about 2 hours. At 5.56am the Smoke Sacks were put to use. A large number of bombs (mortar bombs) were then fired by us and 10 rounds rapid (rifle fire). The enemy replied with rifle fire which was very erratic, and their guns shelled our front line. Casualties: 1 killed; 5 wounded. All these men were wounded in the head. The bombardment and smoke, etc was to give the enemy the impression that we were about to attack La Petite Douve Farm. The day was very wet and the trenches were knee deep in slush and mud. At 3.20pm the enemy dropped 30 or more very large shells behind our line. No casualties.

1st - 4th May 1916
At Hesdin. A Smoking Concert was held to commemorate the Regiment landing in France on 4th May 1915.

9th May 1916
Lord Lonsdale, Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, inspected the Regiment and expressed himself very satisfied at the smart turn out of men and horses.

10th - 11th May 1916
On the 11th, Lt Holland left to take up a position as Political Officer in East Africa under General Smuts. Trooper Harris left for a commission in the Royal Engineers.

To continue my reminiscing&ldots;  My parents were married in 1934, and Major Holland allowed the reception to be held at Lullings.  My father was Drum Major, 2nd Battalion, Queens Royal Regiment, so a number of guests were fellow SNCOs. Apparently Major Holland was much impressed when they all turned to early the following morning to clear up! 

I was born at The Cottage, in 1935, and christened at St Mary's Church, Balcombe.  Mrs Holland attended my christening at Balcombe, and my parents had a couple of reasons to be grateful she accepted their invitation. Firstly, one of my nominated godfathers succumbed to my grandmother's home-made wine and failed to make the service - so Mrs Holland stood in as an honorary godfather! Secondly, the Rector, the Reverend Secretan, had been unexpectedly called away so a very elderly, retired vicar had been called in as a replacement. Mrs Holland was the only one who noticed that he had omitted an important part of the service - so I had not actually been christened! Later that evening, she apparently marched the christening party, now complete, to the Rectory and the Reverend Secretan conducted a second christening.

One of my first memories of Lulllings was the arrival of some evacuees at the start of World War II - they were all older than me, and considerably more street-wise. On one occasion, they persuaded me that the squash court was so called because you supposed to squash apples on the floor! When I was identified as the culprit, my grandfather took me to see Major Holland to apologize. I can still remember him sitting in an armchair, and making a reasonably convincing attempt at looking severe!

Another trick of the evacuees, for which I did not get the blame, was to disrupt Major Holland's meteorological readings by peeing in the rain gauge! They only did this for a couple of days!

Major Holland was a keen archaeologist, and had an excavation site in Tilgate woods, about a mile north of Lullings. He had even erected a hut in which to shelter, and store his tools. My mother told me She also said that Mrs Holland loved having house guests, but Major Holland was not so keen and would, whenever possible, repair to his hut for the time that the routine at Lullings was being disrupted!  The hut was located at the top of an east-facing bank, about by the letter "d" of Wood. The dig was at the bottom of the bank, near a small stream.  The track to the hut started near the pond (just east of spot height 123) and went past an oak tree with a very long branch. The branch was supported by several props and reputed to be the longest in Sussex.  I last saw the hut in 1950, when Major Holland allowed a group of Scouts from my Troop to camp in Tilgate Wood. My recent attempt to relocate it was unsuccessful because the track is now completely overgrown - and the stream and archaeological site are covered by Ardingly Reservoir.

My other memories of Lullings are of an African Grey parrot, called Tottenham, whose companion had escaped and flown towards Tilgate Wood; and the trophies arranged around the walls. Major Holland once told me that, in order to gain permission to hunt in a particular area it was necessary to present gifts to the local chief or headman. The usual beads and bright cloth were becoming rather passé, so he decided to offer talking dolls - the type that opened and closed their eyes and said "Mama". These were, apparently, very popular with the chiefs, who attributed them magical powers; but less popular with the local missionaries because they undid all their hard work!

My grandfather died in 1941; and Major and Mrs Holland were among the mourners:


Members of the local Home Guard, under Lieutenant D. Huxley, O.C., formed a guard of honour at the funeral on December 8th of Mr. A T Pennifold, whose death was reported in our last issue. The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, on which rested the deceased's bayonet  and belt, was borne into the church on the shoulders of six Home Guardsmen: Sergeant Phillips and Volunteers Davies, F. Berry, T. Wood, P. Newnham, and A. J. Constable. The guard was formed at the west door with rifles at the salute. The service was conducted by the Revered D L Secretan (Rector). Following the service the Home Guard lined up again at the graveside in the adjoining churchyard. The "Last Post" and "Reveille" were sounded by Bugler Camp, R.A.F.

The principal mourners were Mrs. Pennifold (widow), Sgt Major and Mrs H Palmer and Mr and Mrs W Tyrrell (sons-in-law and daughters), Mr J. Marchant (brother), Mr and Mrs G. Fairhall (brother-in- law and sister-in-law), Mrs S. Fairhall (neice), Mr and Mrs Pratt and Mr and Mrs Heaver (cousins). Major and Mrs Michael Holland, Mr J Epps and Mr Keyzor. Others present were Mr T. Bates, Mrs M. Bates, Lieut Colonel G. H. Prevost (Chairman) and Mr G. Hazleden (Hon. Secretary), representing the Balcombe branch of the British Legion, Mrs H. Gibb, Mr P. Gibb and Miss Gibb, Mr and Mrs H. Haynes, Mr J. Ireland, Mr H. J. Mason representing the Balcombe Men's Club, Mr M. Mansell, Mr J. Newnham, Sen., Mrs Pattenden, Mrs Pronger, Mrs E Stevens, Mr and Mrs L. Turrell (Ardingly), Mrs Turrell, Miss Tester, Mrs T. Wood and Mr C. R. Webber.


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