“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”
Stan Hollis was born at Archibald Street, Middlesbrough in 1912 and went on to become the only person to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) on D-day, June 6, 1944.
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry that a British and Commonwealth serviceman can achieve.
Stanley ‘Elton’ Hollis spent his early childhood in Middlesbrough where he attended a local school. He moved to Robin Hoods Bay when he was 14 years old to work in a fish and chip shop owned by his father. In 1929 aged 23 he became an apprentice to a Whitby shipping company to learn how to be a Navigation Officer. He made regular voyages to West Africa but in 1930 he fell ill with black-water fever which ended his merchant navy career.
Stan Hollis returned to Middlesbrough and worked as a lorry driver, in 1933 he married local girl Alice Clixby with whom he had a son and a daughter.
In 1939 Stan Hollis enlisted as a Territorial Army volunteer in The Green Howards, 4th battalion. At the outbreak of World War II he was mobilised and transferred to the 6th Battalion where Lance Corporal Stan Hollis’ heroic efforts during the evacuation of Dunkirk saw him promoted to Sergeant.
Campaigns in Africa and Sicily soon followed where in 1943 he was recommended for, but did not receive, a Distinguished Conduct Medal at the fierce battle of Primosole Bridge. Sergeant Stan Hollis was now beginning to get a reputation as a fearless soldier.
But it was his actions at Gold beach, the Mont Fleury battery and Crepon on D-Day when he really came into his own.
As he and his men of the Green Howard regiment stormed up Gold Beach at the very heart of the Normandy invasion force, his deeds earned him the Victoria Cross, the supreme award for gallantry.
He was, surprisingly the only one awarded a Victoria Cross on D-Day.
Amid unimaginable valour and carnage, Hollis stood out.