Born on 2nd March 1896, Thomas Holley Ashmore (always known as Holley, his mother's maiden name) was the son of a coach builder and wheelwright in Bluntisham, a village near St. Ives, Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire). He left school at the age of twelve and after a few years started training as a motor mechanic, working in a relative's garage and chauffeur-driven car hire business. He obtained his driving licence - no test need in those days-  on 8th April 1914 and drove clients to many parts of the country. Thus he was, at that time, an unusually experienced car driver when he joined the Army in February 1915.

His strong non-conformist convictions meant that he was a non-smoker and teetotaller. His knowledge of the Bible gave him an understanding of, and keen interest in the places he was able to visit, especially when his army service took him to Palestine.

Despite his lack of formal education, he could express himself clearly and write easily at at length. He appears to have kept regularly in touch with his family.


Souvenirs and other data

"We really must decide what to do with all the souvenirs Dad brought back from the Great War". This problem has become more relevant as my sister Sylvia and I are in our eighties and that our children show no inclination to take on the role of custodian of this bit of history.

The memorabilia accumulated during Dad's four years of Army Service include several hundred prints of photographs, dozens of picture post cards, two complete broadsheet Egyptian and a Palestinian tabloid newspapers, booklets, train tickets, an official War Office Report of the 1917 Palestine campaign, some hand written notes, but sadly very few letters home. Dad was a diligent correspondent, but our mother destroyed all but one of his letters to her. What a loss!

To ensure that its visual content is preserved, as much of this material as possible  has been digitally scanned or photographed. For those prints that had been annotated, the resulting images have been  labelled and categorised. Guesswork helps to approximately identify   some of the others but some remain as mysteries or just interesting pictures. From what has been written, it is becoming possible to get an idea of Dad's life and experiences.

To supplement this "in-house" information, searches on the internet have provided much of the background to Dad's experiences and their military context. A research project was commissioned, undertaken by fourteeneighteen/research, whose searches of  the National Archives located some of his surviving, although damaged,  Service Records. The project report and images are accessible under Documents.


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