At the time of the 1911 Census, Willie was a butcher’s apprentice, living with his father Richard, a grocer and general dealer, mother Mary Ann and three brothers, Fred, Albert and John. On 8 October 1915, the Shipley Times & Express revealed that much had happened to Willie since the census.The war has brought into relief many evidences of intense patriotism amongst Britishers and the ‘county of the broad acres’ has much to be proud of in this respect.A typical instance of the love for home and country and the self-abnegation which it involves, is found in the case of Pte Willie Hollings, eldest son of Mr and Mrs R Hollings, Fourlands, Idle, who left his native town some four years ago and went to the Antipodes.It was while in Western Australia, at a place called Marble Bar, almost cut off from the rest of civilisation, that the call of King and country reached him.
Some idea of the isolation in which lived may be gathered from the fact that in order to reach the nearest recruiting office, which was situated at Perth, he had to travel thousands of miles, the journey incurring an expenditure of over £14.Pte Hollings had no liking for the military life; he simply entered the army because he felt it his duty to do so.He learnt the trade of a butcher and was employed both at Shipley and Idle. He is affectionately remembered by many people in both districts.On going to Australia, he stayed for some time at Perth but afterwards went into the country and settled at Marble Bar.Pte Hollings, who is now 25 years of age, is at present in training with the Australian Light Horse.He has written some exceedingly interesting letters to his parents. “I hope you are not troubling about
me,” he said. “I felt it was my duty to do my share.”In a further letter he speaks of a visit to Mrs Walmsley, wife of Mr Charlie Walmsley, who is well known at Idle.They have a good many German prisoners over there and the Huns give them a good deal of trouble. They call Australians all the vile names they can think of.The article went on to say that Willie’s brother Fred was also serving as was his cousin Frank Hollings.The next story, published on 3 May 1918, was mainly about the fact that Fred had recently been gassed but also included news of Willie: His brother, Trooper Willie Hollings, Australian Light Horse, aged 28, is also with the colours.He emigrated to Marble Bar, Western Australia, seven years ago, previous to which he had been a butcher at Idle, Thackley and Greengates.
Enlisting in July 1915, he went to the front about the end of that year and, writing to his mother and father at Idle in a letter dated 28th December 1916 he said: “I was left out on the desert with three of our wounded and wounded Turk.“After we got into hospital I found that our regiment had gone, so I helped in the hospital all night, leaving on camels the next day and travelling till Xmas morning. That was three nights without sleep.”He was mentioned in despatches for the above.According to the CWGC website, Willie died on 26 November 1918 but his death only appeared in the local paper on 17 January:Trooper Willie Hollings, aged 28, eldest son of Richard and Mary Hollings of 173a Albion Road, Idle, accidentally drowned at Palestine after three years’ service with the Australian forces in Egypt.He was the brother of Mrs Willie Obank of Park Avenue, Thackley.