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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. A L Holland


Arthur Lawrence Holland was born on 4th May 1909 and educated at Wellington College, he then went in October 1928 to Magdalene College Cambridge to read Engineering. He joined the University Air Squadron in January 1930 and trained in Avro 504s and Bristol Fighters.




Above images courtesy of Wellington College.


Later in the year he began training with the RAFO at Hatfield and was commissioned in the RAFO in March 1931.

On 24th October 1931 Holland relinquished his RAFO commission when he was granted a permanent commission in the RAF as a University Entrant. He was posted to 3 FTS Grantham on 24th October 1931 and after completing his training joined 17 Squadron at Upavon on 27th March 1932.

Holland went to RAF Henlow in August 1934 for a two-year Officers Engineering Course and was then posted to RAF Gosport in August 1936 as Officer i/c Aircraft Repair Squadron. He was responsible for servicing the Torpedo Training Squadron and the FAA on board HMS Furious and Courageous.

In March 1938 Holland was promoted to Squadron Leader and sent to Air HQ India as Command Engineering Officer. He returned to the UK in December 1939. In January 1940 he was posted to the Air Ministry on Engineering duties, in the Directorate of Repair and Maintenance, firstly at Harrogate and later in London.

Holland's request to be allowed to return to flying was answered on 8th July 1940 when he was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge for a refresher course and to convert to Hurricanes.

On 5th August Holland was attached to 501 Squadron at Gravesend as a supernumerary to gain combat experience. He made a forced-landing outside Dover on 12th August after a combat with Me109's off Westgate, during which he probably destroyed a Me109.

Holland was posted to Rochford on 13th August to command 65 Squadron. He converted himself to Spitfires and damaged a Me110 on the 26th. Next day the squadron flew north to Turnhouse.

On 30th October 1940 Holland was admitted to Edinburgh Infirmary with a suspected tumour behind the right eye. He was grounded and non-effective sick for four months.

Holland was transferred to the Technical Branch and in April 1941 he became Chief Technical Officer at 58 OTU Grangemouth. He moved to 51 OTU Cranfield in February 1942 and in July 1943 went to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.

In September 1944 Holland joined the Directing Staff at RAF Staff College Bracknell as an Acting Group Captain. He held a number of commands in India, the Canal Zone and the UK in the post-war RAF.

Holland was made a CBE (gazetted 1st January 1955) and he retired on 25th October 1960 as a Group Captain.

He died in 1993.


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