National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

‘Metal’ Man Awarded the Military Cross Twice

Robert Vincent Hollis was born on 3 February 1893 in Waihi. Working as an Ironmonger, Robert had previously served 2 years with the Waihi Rifles, and then with B Company, 6th (Hauraki) Regiment in the Territorials.

Keen to do his bit and with his previous military service, Robert Hollis enlisted immediately at the outbreak of World War One, joining up on 13 August 1914. He was 21.

Robert Vincent Hollis, MC & Bar

Robert Vincent Hollis, MC & Bar

Because of his previous territorial service Robert was promoted to Corporal within four days of signing up. He embarked with the Main Body on 16 October 1914 aboard the Waimana heading for Suez originally with the Auckland Battalion.

After training at Zeitoun Camp on the outskirts of Cairo and first encountering the Turkish forces at the Suez Canal, Robert Hollis and his mates of the Auckland Battalion, left for Gallipoli on 17 April 1915.

Robert survived the landing but was wounded with a bullet to the shoulder in action at the “Daisy Patch” on 8 May, where a 170 New Zealanders would be killed in a disastrous attack on the Turkish lines. He was placed on the Franconia and returned to Egypt for medical treatment. While there, Robert Hollis was promoted to Sergeant on 1 October 1915, but did not return to Gallipoli as he suffered a bout of heatstroke in November.

After the main evacuation from Gallipoli in December 1915, the New Zealanders re-grouped and prepared for heading to the Western Front.

Robert Hollis’ unit proceeded to France on 20 April 1916, and Robert was promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two on 26 August 1916 and transferred to the Wellington Infantry Regiment.

On 16 September, Robert was hospitalised for a second time, but this time it was for shell shock. After a week in France he was shipped back to England aboard the NZ hospital ship Maheno and admitted to the No. 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst. Robert was transferred to the convalescent hospital at Codford before returning to his battalion on 6 December 1916. Two days later he headed back to France.

Six months later Robert was chosen to undertake officer training in England, and in June 1917 he was promoted to Second Lieutenant and headed back to France again.

Robert Hollis was awarded his Military Cross (MC) and Bar (second MC) for actions in September 1918, and his awards were promulgated in the London gazette just as he was returning to New Zealand aboard the Ulimaroa on 7 November 1918. Robert was further promoted to Lieutenant on 11 December 1918 before being discharged from the NZEF on 16 January 1919.

He was presented his MC and Bar at a ceremony at Government House in Wellington by the Governor General on 1 November 1920. In WWII, he volunteered for the Home Guard on 1 August 1941 and was promoted to Captain.

A retired farmer, Robert died on 22 March 1967 in Thames aged 74.

Robert Hollis’ Military Cross and Bar is on display at the National Army Museum in Waiouru.