Major Francis Holmes - Chevalier of the Crown of Savoy (Italy)
The son of a civil engineer, Frank Holmes had an ordinary South Island upbringing but established an extraordinary career.
He entered the mining industry in South Africa in 1894 and expanded his career to include stints in Australia, Singapore, Mexico, Russia, Nigeria and Uruguay. During World War I he was with the Royal Naval Division, with the rank of major, and served with distinction.
After a period in Abyssinia he moved to the Persian Gulf where, on behalf of the Eastern & General Syndicate, he negotiated an oil concession with the Saudi ruler, Ibn Saud, in direct competition to the British-dominated Anglo-Persian Oil Company. He extracted similar concessions from the rulers of Bahrain and Kuwait.