Keith Holland - 1920 - 1941

This page is based on Rita’s posting in the Old Harpenden Years Gone By Facebook Group on 5 November 2017. There were many appreciative comments and one which brought new connections and information, to Rita’s delight. These are added in – the latest being a photo of her uncle and his fiancée, Jennie Lines.

Sgt Keith Holland, RAF. Credit: Rita Cobb family archives

My Uncle Keith was born in Cravells Road. He worked as a telegram boy then a postman at Harpenden Post Office. He was my Mum’s youngest brother and was engaged to a lovely girl called Jessie Lines. We children loved her.

Keith and his fianacée Jessie Lines. Credit: Rita Cobb family archives










He was mad about aeroplanes so he joined the RAF as a rear gunner. He was killed in October 1941 and his grave stone is in Westfield Cemetery, and he is recorded on the Harpenden War Memorial on Church Green.

The poem was sent by his friend Derek to my Gran and Granddad, when Derek Chapman was at the RAF base in Keldadarnes, Iceland. He was an ack ack gunner. This would have been protecting the Arctic convoys to USSR. Derek also had been a telegram boy.

Tribute from Derek Chapman. Credit: Rita Cobb family archive


Gran had these hung on her wall. But she never spoke about them.



Was Derek from Harpenden and an airman then? It would be lovely to know the writer, who was just 21. I know he played the piano and was a quiet person. He was in my Dad’s concert party – the Serenaders.

Derek Chapman at Kaldadarnes, Iceland. Credit: Jill Chapman

Jill Chapman replied – “No, he was not an airman. Derek was on the anti aircraft guns in Iceland. He lived in Cowper Road when war broke out AND I’ve just remembered he was a telegraph boy when he left school. He did know some Hollands as I recall him talking about them. I moved house recently so all photos boxed up until I get shelves built. I will try to find Dad’s old ones.”

Rita replied – “Wonderful – after all these years wondering who Derek was. My other Uncle, Ron, also was a postman*. He was in the RASC driving an ambulance.

The times I’ve read that little poem to friends.

* see Rita’s photo of Keith’s brother Ron on the Harpenden Post Office page.

GPO message of condolence. Credit: Rita Cobb family archives

Comments about this page

  • Jessie Lines married my father Eric Pearce in 1945 and had two sons – Gordon and I. Unfortunately she died on the 7th March 2018 not that far short of her 96th birthday.  She often talked very fondly of Keith.

    By Andy Pearce (17/03/2018)
  • I was surprised to come across this article on Keith Holland. Surprised because Keith was best man at my father’s wedding in 1941, shortly before he was so tragically killed, and the boyfriend of dads sister Jessie Lines. To the best of my knowledge Jessie is still alive aged 95.

    If anybody is interested I have some photos of Keith at the wedding and of him with Jessie.

    By Graham Lines (01/12/2017)

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