2424 Private Clyde Hollingsworth, 55th Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
Clyde Hollingsworth was born in 1893, the third youngest of 11 children born to Malachi and Susan Hollingsworth of Murrumbateman, New South Wales. The family moved from Murrumbateman to the town of Hall in 1896, where Clyde’s father ran the Cricketer’s Arms Hotel. Malachi died in 1898, when Clyde was four years old, and Susan took over running the hotel for some years. Clyde attended a local public school in the Ginninderra district before becoming apprenticed to a blacksmith.
In February 1916, Hollingsworth travelled to Queanbeyan in order to volunteer for service in the Australian Imperial Force. After completing initial training, he embarked from Sydney on the transport ship Aeneas in September, and arrived in England in November 1916. He continued his training at the army camps on Salisbury Plain until the end of the year, when he sailed to France.
In early February 1917, Hollingsworth joined the 55th Australian Battalion. Northern France was just beginning to emerge from one of the coldest winters in memory, and conditions in the trenches had been dire. Towards the end of the month, the battalion diary noted that a spring thaw had begun, but with it came increased rain.
Over the next few months, the 55th Battalion rotated between training behind the lines and occupying front-line trenches. Enemy artillery, snipers, and aircraft presented a constant danger to the men during their time at the front as they extended and improved the trench system, digging and reinforcing trenches, shelters, and dugouts.
During early 1917, German forces had completed a strategic withdrawal from their front line to a series of fortified positions known to the allies as the Hindenburg Line. One of the strongpoints in this defensive line was the French village of Bullecourt. Australian forces had attempted to capture this village in April, but had been driven off.
In May 1917 the weather had warmed up considerably, and British commanders mounted a second assault on Bullecourt. Some days after the initial assault by British and Australian troops, the 55th Battalion moved into the front line. Soon afterwards, on 11 May 1917, Hollingsworth was struck by shell fragments and killed.
He was 23 years old.
Hollingsworth’s remains are among those known to be buried at Queant Road Cemetery in France, although the precise location of his burial is unknown. His grieving mother chose the inscription “Deeply mourned & sadly missed, may his dear soul rest in peace”.
He was survived in Australia by his mother, seven sisters and three brothers.
KIA 11 May 1917