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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Holdsworth, Albert Armytage (1875–1932)

by Chris Clark

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Albert Armytage Holdsworth (1875-1932), businessman and soldier, was born on 4 November 1875 at Ascot, Victoria, ninth child of John Holdsworth, druggist, and his wife Cate Lancashire, née Vick, both English-born. Nothing is known of his early life and education. He was commissioned lieutenant in the Victorian Volunteer Cadet Corps in 1895 and in 1896 was appointed to the 2nd Battalion (militia).

In January 1900 Holdsworth embarked for active service in South Africa as a lieutenant with the 2nd Victorian (Mounted Rifles) Contingent. He took part in operations in Cape Colony, Orange River Colony and Transvaal, during which he was attached to the British Army Service Corps for twelve months. He was invalided to Australia via England in 1901, arriving in October, and on 4 December married Elizabeth Wellwood (d.1904) at St Martin's Anglican Church, Hawksburn, Melbourne. While working as an estate agent he resumed duty with the militia, first with the 2nd Battalion and later with the 6th Australian Infantry Regiment, but in July 1903 transferred to the Australian Army Service Corps and was promoted captain. In 1908 he joined the Australian Intelligence Corps and was promoted major in December 1911. He was an enthusiastic citizen soldier and in 1911-12 contributed five articles—mainly on the military application of motorization—to the Commonwealth Military Journal. In August 1913 he returned to the A.A.S.C. Holdsworth was also active in civic affairs, gaining election to the Prahran City Council in 1909. He served until 1912, by which time he had pioneered all-night bus services between Prahran and the city. On 9 June 1910 at St Martin's, Hawksburn, he married Annie Allen.

On the outbreak of World War I Holdsworth was temporarily attached for duty at Army Headquarters but on 21 August 1914 he was appointed as a major to command the headquarters company of the supply train of 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force. In Egypt in November 1915 the 1st Divisional Train took part in the Sollum expedition against the Senussi as part of Major General Sir A. Wallace's Western Frontier Force. Holdsworth was in command when the train was ordered to move on 17 November but three days later was appointed assistant director of supply and transport on Wallace's staff at Matruh. For his work during the campaign he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was later mentioned in dispatches for his services both in Egypt and France. He also received the Volunteer Officers' Decoration in 1916. Transferred to command the 4th Divisional Train in March 1916 with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he remained with his unit in France and Belgium for almost the rest of the war. He returned to Australia in September 1918, his A.I.F. appointment ended in January 1919 and he was placed on the retired list of the Australian Military Forces with the honorary rank of colonel in February 1924.

After the war he resumed business as a real estate agent in Prahran, and became chairman of directors of Taxation Services of Australia Ltd and bondholders' trustee of Colonial Tobacco Growers Pty Ltd. He was again elected to the Prahran Council in 1920 and served a term as mayor in 1925-26; the council's purchase in 1921 of part of the Como estate as a public park was due largely to his representations.

Holdsworth died from a heart condition in a private hospital at Prahran on 9 October 1932 and was cremated. He was survived by his second wife and their son and daughter as well as a son by his first marriage; his eldest son had predeceased him.

Select Bibliography

  • Aust Defence Dept, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • J. B. Cooper, The History of Prahran (Melb, 1912)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929)
  • C. D. Coulthard-Clark, The Citizen General Staff (Canb, 1976)
  • London Gazette, 2, 20 June 1916
  • Argus (Melbourne), 10, 12 Oct 1932
  • Herald (Melbourne), 10 Oct 1932
  • records (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Chris Clark, 'Holdsworth, Albert Armytage (1875–1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 27 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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