The Story of Stanley Hollis – The Soldier the Nazis Couldn’t Kill

The Second World War revealed over the years the stories of many heroes who gave their lives for their country in acts of boundless courage. The heroic story of an English soldier, who remained in the memory of the British army led to the construction of a statue in his memory.

On June 6th 1944, the landing in Normandy brought terror in the hearts of many Allied soldiers who were about to face the Nazis. Moments before reaching shore, the British soldiers received a weird accessory, at least for a battlefield. Each of them received a condom, which gave birth to much amusement in such harsh moments.

Among the surprised soldiers was Sergeant Stanley Hollis. “What are these for? What should we do with them?”, asked the Englishman and everyone laughed. This fun moment cheered many young soldiers, a lot of them dead or seriously injured only minutes later.


Sergeant Hollis, age 31, was one of the most experienced soldiers from the British Army, with active battles like those of Dunkirk, El Alamein or Sicily. As a leader, Hollis had given his fellow soldiers an example: without fear.

The fight from D-Day turned out to be an extremely bloody military conflict in the history of the world. Sergeant Stanley Hollis along with other soldiers from the Green Howard regiment were on Gold Beach, the exact center of the Normandy invasion. His actions from that day would bring him the supreme gratitude of the people and the Victory Cross, the highest military award any soldier received that day.

150,000 troops landed on the beaches of Normandy that day, of which 12,000 were wounded or killed. Hollis was one of the soldiers who survived, and the actions from that day brought him a worthy nickname, as “the soldier that the Nazis could not kill”. The story of this British soldier remained in history, his courage and dedication surprising everyone.

After landing, Hollis and his comrades climbed the hills of Normandy managing to pass through a minefield unharmed. The objective of the British troops was a German battery that was firing on the landing Allies. As they approached the enemy, the gun fire intensified and the objective of killing the Germans seemed far away.

In a moment of extreme courage, Sergeant Stanley Hollis stood up and ran zigzagging towards the enemies, managing to avoid the incoming German bullets. When he was just above the enemy battery, Hollis threw a grenade inside it.

But Sergeant Stanley was not going to stop here, because after seeing another enemy battery, which was parallel to the one he had just destroyed, he fearlessly rushed towards it, with his mind set on catching another enemy establishment.

According to the witnesses and his comrades, Hollis managed to capture in that moment 20 German soldiers, all by himself. With the two German batteries decommissioned, Hollis effectively secured an advance point for Allied troops, that have already occupied a good part of the Normandy beaches.

According to the war biographer Mike Morgan, “without Hollis’s contribution, the first attack wave would have been stopped by the enemy troops, thus a crucial moment of the landing being jeopardized.”

Only three hours after his brave act, the British sergeant would repeat the deed.

The Allied troops were advancing towards the villages situated in the vicinity of French beaches, when a German roadblock, covered by machine guns and snipers, proved to be another turning point for the fate of the soldiers. The enemy spot located in an orchard was very well positioned. Eight British soldiers had already died trying to conquer this point. Two others were injured halfway between the Allies and the Germans.

Sergeant Stanley Hollis was about to prove his courage again. In an unexpected counterattack from the British soldier, the Germans were forced to cease fire, at which point two wounded comrades of the Englishman were be saved. His heroic gestures were also seen by the army superiors.

“Wherever the fighting was the fiercest, Sergeant Hollis was there”, writes in the official Victory Cross report.

“Twice his courage and initiative have prevented the enemy to stay ahead in crucial moments. His courage saved many human lives.”

His reputation remained in the British military history, a figure of 100 Germans killed by him in The Second World War being noted. However, Hollis does not see himself as a hero and said he was just lucky in his actions.

“If I was not there to do its, someone else would have done it”, said the Englishman.

70 year after the events in Normandy, Hollis will receive a commemorative statue in his hometown of Middlesbrough. The project has been in development for some time now. Stanley Hollis will always be remembered in the military world. He died 40 years ago.

Ovidiu Popa

Ovidiu Popa is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE