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Richard Charles Frederick Holman (1861–1933)

by L. M. Field

This article was published:

Richard Charles Frederick Holman (1861-1933), soldier, was born on 26 September 1861 at Broadway, Dorsetshire, England, son of Frederick Holman, pharmacist, and his wife Louisa Thomson, née Puckett. Educated at King's College, London, he enlisted in the ranks of the British Army and served with the 1st Mounted Rifles in the Bechuanaland Expedition of 1884-85. He came to Australia soon afterwards and served with the New South Wales Police Force in 1886-88. On 23 June 1890 Holman was granted warrant rank in the New South Wales Permanent Mounted Infantry. In 1897 he spent several months in the United Kingdom on attachment to the 4th Dragoon Guards and the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards. He also attended Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations as a member of the New South Wales military detachment.

Holman served with distinction in the South African War. On 3 November 1899 he embarked as regimental sergeant major with the 1st New South Wales Mounted Rifles. He took part in Lord Roberts's great drive into the Boer republics in February-June 1900, and then in other operations in western Transvaal before leaving for home with his unit in December 1900. For his gallantry in the field, he was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. After only two months in Australia he embarked again for the front as lieutenant and adjutant with the 2nd New South Wales Mounted Rifles. He arrived in Cape Town in April 1901 and his unit spent the remaining thirteen months of the war in sporadic operations against Boer guerrilla forces. His military efficiency during this period earned him promotion to captain and award of the Distinguished Service Order.

After returning from South Africa, Holman reverted to his pre-war rank of warrant officer and served as such with the Commonwealth Military Forces until he was commissioned as lieutenant, Administrative and Instructional Staff, on 1 January 1905. He was promoted captain on 26 September 1906 and major on 1 October 1911. He visited Canada as an exchange officer in 1912-13. Holman was brigade major with the 3rd Light Horse Brigade from December 1913 to September 1916 when he relinquished the post to take command of the Liverpool Concentration Camp, New South Wales, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Liverpool was the main internment centre in Australia for enemy aliens, and internees numbered over 5000 when Holman assumed a command which he carried out with competence and compassion until his retirement on 4 February 1920 with the honorary rank of colonel.

Holman had married Harriette Blanche Mills at St Mary's Anglican Church, Balmain, Sydney, on 10 December 1890. They had three daughters and a son Richard Dudley, who served with the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli and in France as a commissioned officer and was twice wounded. Survived by his wife and children, Holman died of cancer on 13 December 1933 at Ingleburn, and was buried in the Anglican section of Denham Court cemetery, Ingleburn.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • E. Scott, Australia During the War (Syd, 1936)
  • L. M. Field, The Forgotten War (Melb, 1979)
  • London Gazette, 27 Sept 1901, 29 July, 31 Oct 1902
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Dec 1933.

Citation details

L. M. Field, 'Holman, Richard Charles Frederick (1861–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 September, 1861
Broadway, Dorset, England


13 December, 1933 (aged 72)
Ingleburn, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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