Frank Holland joined the 4th Hussars in Italy in August 1944.

Capt FRD Holland
Capt FRD Holland

His first taste of action was on 3rd September as a tank troop leader in ‘A’ Squadron at the Battle of Coriano in the assault on the Gothic Line.

He later described having to destroy the tower of ‘the most beautiful church I ever saw, but the Germans were using it as a lookout and we had to shell it in the end. He continued to lead his troop of Sherman tanks, later to be converted to Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers, as the Regiment advanced north in support of a variety of different infantry units.

Frank recalled the celebrations when the German army capitulated in May: ‘We fired a few incendiary rounds into a few haystacks and set them alight.’ Frank was then given the task of taking a truck and some men to race into Austria and reach Vienna before the Russians, who were increasingly being viewed with suspicion. ‘We were to post the British flag in as many towns and villages as we could, and I did get 20 or 30 miles into Austria before the Russians withdrew’ he recounted.

Later, while still in Austria, Frank played his part in the Regiment’s tasks of guarding surrendered and displaced personnel, refugees and horses, as well as manning Camp Tunis, a transit camp for personnel going to the UK on home leave for the first time in 4½ years; at one stage he was in charge of a camp containing some 900 German prisoners of war.

In September 1945 the Regiment moved back to Italy from Austria were their last task was peacekeeping in the city of Trieste. He was promoted to Captain in June 1946 and returned to civilian life two years later.

He then joined London insurance brokers C E Heath where he rose from junior clerk to Chairman. He was a founder member of the Worshipful Company of Insurers in 1979 and Master in 1985-86.

He was also a director of the Greyhound Bus Corporation in the USA.

After leaving the Army he maintained his contact with the Regiment as a Trustee of the 4th Hussars Benevolent Fund and in 2005 travelled to Italy and visited the War Graves Commission cemetery at Coriano where so many of his 4th Hussars friends lie buried.

He also served on the committee of the 4th Hussars Officers’ Dining Club and recalled once discussing their mutual love of cigars with Winston Churchill!

A contemporary, who knew him in the 4th Hussars later, described him as ‘generous, a very private man who never said two words when one would do’.

He married Margaret (deceased) with whom he had a daughter, Janie, who now lives in Canada. He remarried and moved with his second wife, Charmian, to Sydney, Australia, where he died on 3rd March 2016, aged 91.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Italy 1943-5 timeline