Ernest and Allan Holz

Ernest and Allan Holz

The Holz brothers:  William, Ernest and Allan.

Ernest John Julius Holz, No. 39535, 3rd Wellington Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade and Allan Holz, No. 39534, 3rd Wellington Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, killed in action, 13 June 1917.

Privates Ernest and Allan Holz are two of the 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of First World War service and are listed on the Roll of Honour.

Born in Wellington in 1879 and 1891 respectively, Ernest and Allan were among the eight surviving children of Bertha and Julius Holz, a German immigrant who had become a naturalised British subject in 1884. Julius Holz died in 1915. In October 1916, Allan, Ernest and their brother William enlisted as privates in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Ernest was 37 years old and working as a labourer, while 25-year-old Allan was working as a fitter. When they signed up both claimed to be younger – Ernest 32 and Allan 23. While both brothers had grey eyes and brown hair, Ernest was the shorter of the two and had a bird tattooed on his left arm.

The three Holz brothers were posted to the 3rd Wellington Battalion and remained together for the duration of their service. After training at Featherston and Trentham they left New Zealand in January 1917 as part of the 21st Reinforcements. On arrival in England the brothers underwent a month of further training at Sling and Codford. They were sent to France in late May 1917.

Two weeks later the three brothers were preparing to join the fighting in Belgium, where the Allies had captured Messines Ridge from German forces the previous week. In the early hours of 13 June 1917, a German shell landed at Pont-de-Nieppe, hitting a room in which the brothers were asleep in their billet. The explosion killed Ernest and Allan, while William suffered severe wounds to his abdomen, wrist, hip and foot.

Thirty-year-old William was evacuated to England, but the severity of his wounds meant his war service was over. Sent back to New Zealand in July 1917 aboard the hospital ship Marama, he married two years later and died in Nelson in 1959. His brothers Ernest and Allan were buried side by side in Motor Car Corner Cemetery in Belgium. Back in New Zealand, Defence Minister Sir James Allen broke the news to their mother on a personal visit to her Wellington home. Contemporary newspapers recorded the poignant event:

A notable example of the specially heavy afflictions which the war is bestowing on some New Zealand homes was elicited from a casualty cablegram received in the Base Records office on Sunday … Three sons of Mrs Holz, a widow residing in Berhampore, left with the 21st Reinforcements, and of these two were killed and one wounded on June 13th, all being included in the same cable message. The facts of the case were reported to the Minister of Defence by the Director of Base Records (Major Norton Francis), and Sir James Allen at once arranged a joint visit to the bereaved mother with a view to breaking the news as gently as possible. He also cabled for fullest particulars in regard to the wounded son. These three lads achieved a fine record in defence of their King and Country. [1]

On the first anniversary of her sons’ deaths in 1918, Bertha placed a memorial notice in the Evening Post that expressed her continued grief:

In ever present and dear memory of the greatly loved ones, Ernest and Allan Holz, who fell in France on the 13th June, 1917 … Dearest, dearest, ever of thee. They were loving and faithful in their lives, and in death they were not divided. [2]


Further information

Auckland Museum Cenotaph record (Allan Holz)

Auckland Museum Cenotaph record (Ernest Holz)

Auckland Museum Cenotaph record (William Holz)

Casualty details (CWGC) – Allan Holz & Ernest Holz

The Fallen and Wounded’, Press, 4 July 1917, p. 10 (Papers Past)

New Zealand’s Roll of Honour. In Memoriam’, Evening Post, 13 June 1918, p. 1 (Papers Past)

[1] ‘The Fallen and Wounded’, Press, 4 July 1917, p. 10.

[2] ‘New Zealand’s Roll of Honour. In Memoriam’, Evening Post, 13 June 1918, p. 1.

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Ernest and Allan Holz

What do you know?

Colleen Cresswell née Holz

Posted: 16 May 2017

As children my sisters and brother used to go with our Grandfather, Willie Holz, to the ANZAC parade in Nelson. We always knew about his brothers. Nowdays our grandchildren attend the ANZAC services and know the family story.

Recently in Nelson I laid flower on Willies grave to honour the 100 yrs since his war, and reflected on the visit to Motor Car Corner cemetery in Belgium that I made in 1916. As I laid wreaths and NZ flags on the graves of the great-uncles I was aware that I was the first blood relative to do so in 99 years. It was an emotional experience and a great privilege to honour them so.

Garry Holz

Posted: 26 Apr 2017

I read this article and felt very sad, but at the same time felt immensely proud of the brothers. William is my grandfather and Ernest and Aiian my great uncles.
This past Anzac Day I placed a poppy on Grandads grave and remembered him with honour. On the 13th of June I will place a wreath and poppies on the graves of Ernest and Allan where they are buried in Motor Car Corner Cemetery , Belguim. This will be 100 years to the day since they died.
Long gone but well remembered.