Stan Hollis, WWII Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Given its high distinction, the Victoria Cross is not handed out to just anybody. It is given for extreme heroics so noble that even the thousands upon thousands of men present during the invasion on D-Day did not receive the medal. None of them, that is, save for Stan Hollis. Out of one hundred and fifty thousand Allied forces present on D-Day, Hollis was the only one to receive the Victoria Cross for the day’s efforts.

Like many WWII soldiers of note, Stan Hollis was not a man of arrogance of self-pride but rather a man who did a job he saw as a necessity of the era. He charged forward through the fray during the Normandy invasions and won the Victoria Cross for his efforts to save fellow troopers without fear of losing his own life in the process. Even his own son, Brian, does not completely understand what his father must have been thinking to risk life and limb so brazenly.

Stan Hollis did not just risk his life on D-Day, he was also imprisoned as a POW and took more than a few licks in his day. He suffered broken bones, saw his comrades dead at the hands of the enemy, and still he sallied forth. The Victoria Cross winner did not like to talk to the press about his adventures, preferring to keep the war in the past. He still carried his scars though, in the form of bullets which remained in his feet ‘til the end of his days.

Part of the reason that Hollis did not feel the need was to glorify himself was that he did not see himself as unique for having performed his feats of bravery and camaraderie. He was well aware that there were other brave men in the war who, even without a Victoria Cross, were just as daring and self-sacrificing as he was. Once the fighting was over and everyone was on equal footing, he did not want to be a war hero. He wanted to be a family man, the Mirror reports.

The Victoria Cross winner got his wish, and lived out the rest of his life with his wife and children. Despite his rare achievement, awarded for his solo approach toward the enemy in defense of his fellow troops, he managed to stay in relative obscurity. It is primarily due to the recent anniversary of D-Day after seventy years that the war hero is remembered for winning a Victoria Cross despite being one out of 150,000 other men.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE