Alec John Grice HoltBorn July - Sept 1887 - Killed in Action 15th February 1915
Alec was the eldest son of Arthur HOLT, bank clerk and Jane HOLT. While a child he lived with his family at Broomhill Lodge, Higham Road, Woodford and attended Bancrofts School within the first decade of the school being established at Woodford Green. On leaving school Alec was employed by the Guardian Assurance Company, 11 Lombard Street, London. Alec’s father was a local councillor and a firm supporter of the Woodford Congregational Church. In turn Alec played a leading role with the church as secretary to the Woodford Congregational Guild. In February 1909 aged 22 Alec also enlisted in the territorial army as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery. Had Alec stayed in England doubtless he would have continued in this vein, however, in 1910 he was called for by his employer and offered an opportunity to be interviewed for another position overseas.
He was successful in this interview and gained a position with Paterson, Simons and Co a large mercantile company based in Singapore. This caused him to resign his position with the RFA.
Whilst in Singapore Alec promptly enlisted with the Singapore rifles an expatriot territorial unit. Initially serving as a despatch rider he then enlisted in full in the Singapore Rifles on 4th August 1914. On 15th February 1915 took place one of the least wellknown episodes of the Great War when more than 800 sepoys of the Indian Army stationed in Singapore rose up in mutiny. At 3:30 pm on 15 February 1915, four Rajput companies of the eight companies making up the 5th Light Infantry with 100 men of the Malay States Guides Mule Battery mutinied. The mostly Pathan sepoys of the remaining four companies did not join the mutiny but scattered in confusion. Two British officers of the regiment were killed as they attempted to restore order.
The mutineers divided themselves into three groups. A party of 100 went to obtain ammunition from Tanglin Barracks, where 309 Germans, including crew members from the German light cruiser SMS Emden, had been interned by the British. Alec was one of those assigned to guard the internees from the mutineers and secure the arms cache nearby. The mutineers fired on the camp guards and officers without warning, killing ten British guards one of which was our Alec together with three Johore troops present in the camp and one German internee. The mutineers tried to persuade the Germans to join them, but many of the latter were shaken by the sudden violence and reluctant to do so. Some German sailors and reservists wanted to join with the mutineers but the majority of internees adopted a neutral stance, refusing to accept rifles from the Indians. Thirty five Germans escaped but the rest remained in the barracks.
As it was the middle of the Chinese New Year, most of the Chinese Volunteers Corps were on leave, leaving Singapore almost defenceless against the mutiny. The British government was caught unprepared, and other mutineers went on a killing spree, killing 18 European and local civilians. Martial law was imposed and marines from HMS Cadmus went ashore to join with British, Malay and Chinese Volunteer units and the small number of British regular troops forming part of the garrison. The British Vice-Admiral in charge sent a radio message requesting help from any allied warships nearby and soon the French cruiser ‘Montcalm’ followed by both Russian and Japanese warships arrived disembarking quelled the mutiny with great loss of life to the rebellious sepoys. For seven days the rebellion continued with buildings being laid waste and European inhabitants attacked. Alec HOLT was one of five soldiers of the Singapore Rifles killed on the first day of the mutiny.
His brothers Douglas, Gerald and Kenneth all went on to serve in the British Army for the duration of the war.
The Woodford Times reported from Will Collins a colleague of Alec’s:
"...On Monday 15th we had some trouble here which needed all the volunteers....at one time the lives of all the Europeans here held by a thread." "His kindly and genial nature had made him many friends in Woodford."
Alec is buried in the KRANJI WAR CEMETERY, Singapore and commemorated on a plaque (above) in the VICTORIA MEMORIAL HALL, SINGAPORE.