If you were to meet Stanley Hollis after World War II, you wouldn’t have a clue that a humble sandblaster and then later on “The Green Howard” pub owner gallantly fought during the Normandy Landings that day of June 6, 1944. Moreover, who would’ve thought that this meek family man was actually the only soldier that became a Victoria Cross Recipient of that war— an award so infrequently given and so prestige that those who got the chance to receive it became a part of an exclusive pantheon of war heroes, Hollis included.

Stanley Elton Hollis. (Image from D-Day Overlord)

Before the D-Day Invasion

Hollis was born and raised in Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, where he also studied until 1926. His family soon moved to Robin Hood’s Bay, where he helped with his father’s fish and chip shop.

In 1929, he became an apprentice to a Whitby shipping company as a Navigation Officer. There, he made regular travel to West Africa until he caught blackwater fever that ended his merchant navy career. He went back to North Ormesby to work as a lorry driver, where he also married Alice Clixby and had two children with her: a son and a daughter.

Stanley Hollis with his wife Alice, daughter Pauline and son Brian
Stanley Hollis with his wife Alice, daughter Pauline and son Brian. (Image from D-Day Overlord)

Experienced in War

In 1939, he enlisted in the Territorial Army, which was part of the British forces, in the 4th Battalion called Green Howards. He was then sent to France in 1940 as part of the British Expeditionary Force, where he was assigned to be the dispatch rider of the commanding officer. Soon, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant at the time of evacuation from Dunkirk. He also became part of the El Alamein to Tunis as a member of the British Eighth Army during the North African Campaign. Not long, he again climbed the ranks and was promoted to company sergeant major just before the invasion of Sicily in the year 1943. It was at that time that Hollis was wounded in the middle of the battle of Primosole Bridge.