HOLDGATE, Ernest Arthur George
(Service number 6/1873 & 6/1823)

First Rank Captain Last Rank Major


Date Ironmonger's Assistant (Priest & Holdgate) Place of Birth 2 June 1875

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment 11 Butler Street, Timaru, New Zealand
Occupation 15 Aug 1914-31 Dec 1915
Previous Military Experience Enrolled Timaru Rifle volunteers 1893
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin James Herbert Holdgate (brother), 11 Butler Street, Timaru, New Zealand
Religion Timaru
Medical Information Methodist

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 4th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Infantry Battalion
Date 17 April 1915
Transport Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian, Balkans (Gallipoli), Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Western Europe
Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 29 February 1964 Age
Place of Death Timaru
Notices Internal Affairs Notification, Military personnel file
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Wounded at Gallipoli. Genealogical notes by Guy Holdate record: "The first Timaru Holdgate to serve overseas in WW1 was Earnest Arthur George Holdgate. He was born in Timaru in 1875, the fourth son to Edward and Betty Holdgate. Edward and Betty had emigrated from Glossop, England, to settle in Timaru in 1863 sailing on the ‘Victory’, one of the first ships to bring emigrants to South Canterbury. Edward Holdgate and William Priest started the well known hardware shop Priest and Holdgate located in the Royal Arcade on Stafford Street. Earnest Holdgate was educated at Timaru Main School. In time Earnest and several of his brothers worked in the family business and Earnest learnt the trades of locksmith, gunsmith and sheet metal worker.

In 1893 Earnest joined the local Timaru Volunteer Rifle Company and was described as quite a marksmen often winning shooting competitions. This must have served him well in the ensuing conflict, and he obtained the rank of Captain shortly after enlisting with the South Canterbury Infantry Regiment in December 1914. He duly embarked with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion to Egypt on HMNZT Willochra departing NZ on 17 April 1915. Being a keen family member and participant in affairs of the Banks Street Methodist Church he was given a large church send-off and was presented him with a fine pair of field glasses in leather case. After a short spell in Egypt he arrived on Gallipoli with the 4th Canterbury reinforcements on 8th June 1915. From Canterbury Regiment Records it appears the 4ths were then put into the trenches at the dangerous location of Quinns Post where they replaced Australian troops. On 10th July 1915 Earnest was wounded in the arm/shoulder by gun shot/shrapnel. The wound was said to be severe entailing bone damage and initially he was shipped to Malta for treatment, and then went on the hospital ship Dover Castle to England where he was admitted on 15th October to the Endsleigh Palace Hospital in London. By early March 1916 he was considered fit for light duties, and by end of March became fit for general services, embarked to Egypt on 24th March, later rejoined his old unit at Rouen in France where he was taken on strength with the Canterbury C Company 4th Rifles. He resumed his rank of Captain by 5th June 1916. According to unit records the Canterbury’s participated in the Somme battles near Flers and when located possibly in the Goose Alley trench system Earnest received a second wounding – a gunshot wound to the knee on 25th September 1916. By 11th November he is recorded as being admitted to the NZ General Hospital at Brokenhurst in England for treatment, was finally placed on the NZ ill health roll by 21st November, and was returned to NZ on the hospital ship Marama arriving in Auckland on 5th March 1917. Family stories were that during his time in England on various leave he managed to get in touch with old family connections in the Glossop-Manchester area. A photo shows him in a line-up of officers about to be presented to King George V. By 25th April 1917 he was struck off strength and by June was discharged, but continued his military duties with the Territorial Army at Burnham Camp where he was promoted to the rank of Major.

In the post-war era he worked in the family firm Priest and Holdgate until it passed into the hands of Briscoes in the 1950’s. He remained interested in fishing, shooting, tennis, gardening and music and continued his association with the Banks Street Wesleyan Church where he continued his Sunday school teaching and organist duties as before the war. He remained unmarried, lived with his widowed sister Ethel in Timaru, and died at the grand old age of 89 years in 29th February, 1964. He is buried in the Timaru Cemetery."

Great nephew Brian Davies recalled his “Uncle Erny” fondly, commenting “… he lived in Banks Street where I mowed the lawns when I was a student at Timaru College. He was a very quiet man, never spoke of his time during WW1 but I remember he walked with a limp due to his war wound and during school holidays I often visited him at Priest & Holdgate's hardware store where he was the gun and locksmith. He had a great comrade who lived in Orbell St, Captain Pennyfeather and when they met in Stafford St he always greeted Uncle Erny as Major Holdgate and he would return the greeting to Captain Pennyfeather. This I recall from around 1950 through to about 1963. He also built a holiday home at Lake Tekapo which is still visible today and quite close to the church of The Good Shepherd where I spent a few summer school holiday weekends.”


Cenotaph (14 May 2014); Genealogical notes by Guy Holdgate, 2014 (South Canterbury Museum L2014/008); SCRoll submission by B Davies, 1 April 2015

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Tony Rippin (South Canterbury Museum); David Batchelor, South Canterbury Museum

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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