Biography of Flight Lieutenant Christopher Holland by his sister Joanna Newton (née Holland)
My brother Christopher was the middle of three children born to Godfrey and Violet Holland. Christopher was born in 1923, our sister Pat, who died in 2009, was born in 1921 and I followed as the youngest child in 1926.
We were brought up by our parents at Plummers Plain House, Lower Beeding, Nr Horsham in Sussex and at 42 Chelsea Park Gardens in London SW3.
Christopher started school in London at an establishment in Sloane Street called Gibbs. He was eight when sent as a boarder to a boy’s preparatory school at Copthorne in Sussex. After that he went on to Winchester College in Hampshire.
Christopher was a keen sportsman, he was Stroke in the Winchester rowing Eight and was a talented rider hunting with The Crawley and Horsham Hounds.
He joined the RAF in 1941. He was fitted out with his uniform and kit and inoculated at Lords Cricket Ground, whilst enjoying lunch each day at London Zoo.
He was sent to be toughened up for a month and got fit….before having just 12 hours flying time to be taught how to fly a Tiger Moth. He was then sent solo.
He was then sent to Saskatchewan in Alberta Canada for training and passed out top of 70 pilots with a remarkable 89.9%.
On his return to the UK, Christopher was sent to Staffordshire to No 30 Operational Training Unit where he met up with and became great friends with Desmond Pelly. Seventy years later Desmond is next door neighbour to Christopher’s sister Joanna in Sussex.
They started off flying Wellington Bombers before moving to Doncaster to fly Halifax for a further 6 weeks….then onto Lancaster bombers.
On 12th August 1944 aged 21, Christopher flew on his first operational mission. His plane took off from RAF Station Grimsby at 9.45pm to attack targets in Brunswick, Germany but never returned.
Writing to his parents the next morning, Wing Commander Robert Pattison wrote “Chris had only been with us a short while, but he had already begun to show skill and ability as a Pilot and Captain of Aircraft.”
The average age for airmen killed flying Lancaster Bombers in the 2nd World War was 22.
Joanna Newton (nee Holland)
At the end of April / early May 2010 Mrs Joanna Newton, accompanied by her family made an emotional visit to her brother’s final resting place at the cemetery in Hardenberg, Netherlands. The family also visited the site of Gerald Hood’s execution in the woods near Zenderen.
During our research all of us who have been involved in working on the LM658 story had managed to overlook the obvious with regards to Flt Lt Christopher Holland who, on the night of 12th August 1944 had sat in the cockpit of LM658 alongside skipper Bill Paston-Williams to do his “second dickie” (operational familiarisation trip) to gain first hand experience of night op’s over Germany, which implied that that Flt Lt Holland was already the skipper of an operationally ready crew who would of course be eagerly awaiting his return and a briefing as to what lay ahead on their first night trip. When Flt Lt Holland did not return that following morning and was posted as missing his trained crew would naturally have to be assigned another skipper with whom they could complete their tour! Our oversight came to light when the family of Flying Officer James H Boyle RCAF (retired) of Calgary, Canada found the LM658 website during research and made contact with us. Mr Boyle who is indeed still alive and well was the navigator with Flt Lt Holland’s own crew and was eager to make contact with us to discover at last the fate of his friend and the aircraft on which he had been lost. Mr Boyle was especially happy to be put in touch with an equally thrilled Mrs Joanna Newton who is now in correspondence with her brother’s friend and comrade! Mr. Boyle has kindly submitted his memoirs of his RCAF service, with particular reference to time spent as a friend and crew member of Flt/ Lt Holland. Along with their new skipper, Chris Holland’s old crew completed their tour with 625 Squadron distinguishing themselves as one of the first (and the few) Lanc’ crews to knock down an attacking Messerschmitt ME262 jet fighter!