Further research from this source reveals more background to this valiant soldier. Below is some biographical details and a letter from Lt. Beeson who wrote the soldier’s wife the details of his death.
“We were at the rest camp which the Germans shelled pretty heavily. Mark and I stopped to talk to some men of our Company. After a while, I thought all safe and decided to walk to our billet about 50yards up the road. Mark said he would follow me. I had not gone 10 yards when I heard a shell coming and it hit the corner where the men were standing, killing two. The remainder, four or five in number, all fell flat on the ground and were uninjured. Mark got hit in the lower leg and stomach. He was dead when they took him up.
He was buried next morning at 9.30, 30thDecember. The Colonel, Chaplain and all the officers of “B” Company were present, also several men of my platoon, including Jack Coker. The body was covered with the Union Jack and had as good a funeral as possible. It is a lovely church where he is buried and the graves are well cared for. Mark’s will be while I am here.
I sympathise with you in your loss for he and I had become, out here, just like brothers. I hope you will bear it bravely. Mark was brave, always cheerful and willing at all times to take all things as they came. We never know whose turn may come next. I have the nose of the shell and will try to send it to you.”
At the time of the 1901 Census, the Holland family was living at 5 Brinksway Road, Stockport. Mark was the youngest of four children, his older siblings being Samuel (22), Mary (21) and William (19). Mark’s father, Samuel was 48. There is no mention of Mrs Holland, although Samuel was not a widower.
Between April and June 1909, Mark married Ellen Leigh, the daughter of local magistrate George Leigh. They lived at 35 Station Road, Reddish and, by 1915, had two children.
At some point, Mark went to work in Canada, leaving Ellen in Stockport.
“Soldier Servant” to Lieut. Beeson.
Link to soldier. Apparently from Stockport. Need to follow up.
To Alex Hyslop Esq.
From Lieut. J Beeson
Your letter of the 8th inst to which I take the first opportunity to reply:
No. 54341 Pte James Hyslop belonged to my platoon, he was killed by the explosion of a shell, on the 29th day of December, 1915. I am sorry that you have not been informed by the War Office, for it is their duty to do so.
Pte Hyslop and my servant Pte Holland and several more men of my platoon were standing at street corner talking (the Germans were shelling us pretty heavily). I came up the road and they asked me to stay, however, I told them I thought I would get along, I had not gone 20 yards when I heard a shell coming and looking back saw it had landed at the corner, Privates Hyslop and Holland were both instantly killed, Pte Hyslop’s wounds were mostly to the head and Pte Holland the stomach.
We buried them at 9.30 am the next day. The O.C and all the officers of “B” Coy. (and all the men not on duty) were present. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack and the Regimental Chaplain read the service for the dead.
I visited their graves yesterday and they are well cared for as the men visit them when we are here (rest camp).
I will send you a P.C [picture] of the church when I can procure one. If there is anything else that I can do for you, shall only be to pleased to do it.
You will please accept the sympathy of the C.O and Officers and men of No.5 Platoon, for Pte Hyslop was a favourite and liked by all.
Sympathising with you in your great loss but trusting you will be fortified with the knowledge that he did his duty.
I remain yours obediently,
J Beeson, Lieut. No.5 Platoon “B”-Coy, 18th Batt. C.E.F