S2c Claude Herbert Jr. Holland,

Unknown Sailor

S2c Claude Herbert Jr. Holland

Alden B. Little left his home in Bessemer, Alabama, on Dec. 22, 1941 to deliver terrible news to his sister, Emelene. Her son Claude Herbert Holland Jr., a seaman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona, had been killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

As Mr. Little neared her home in West Blocton southwest of Birmingham, his vehicle collided with a truck, killing his passenger, his infant son, William.

Claude Holland Jr., born May 31, 1922, was the oldest of at least nine children of Emelene Little Holland, a homemaker, and Claude Holland Sr., a rock dumper at a coal mine. 

The 1940 Census said the son completed 7th grade and was employed as a farm laborer. The local newspaper described him as a friendly boy who “numbered his friends by the score.” He left West Blocton, population 1,317, in October 1940 to enlist in the Navy.

After his death, the local branch of the United Mine Workers union wrote a public letter to the Holland family. “We cannot express with our tongues the grief and sympathy within our hearts for the fathers and mothers like yourself who give their sons for their country; nor do we wish to make the burder harder to bear in writing you these few lines in this sad hour.

“God giveth our sons. They spring forth like a flower. Likewise He taketh them away in the twinkling of an eye.

“But we must remember that God and our Saviour doeth all things well.”

The letter went on to praise Mr. Holland’s heroism and asked that God bless his family.

The American Legion organized a memorial service for Mr. Holland in April 1943 at Lowerytown Baptist Church in West Blocton.

At least one brother, Robert, served in the Navy from July 1951 through July 1959.

Sources: The Birmingham (Alabama) News;  The Blocton (Alabama) Enterprise; The Centreville (Alabama) Press; Navy muster roll; cenotaph at Stewart Cemetery in West Blocton; Census. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.
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