By the end of World War I Holmes had written three books but was still only a demonstrator at Imperial College. In 1918 the Holmeses had their first child, Norman, and a demonstrator's income was not sufficient to support the family. The Yomah Oil Company hired Holmes as chief geologist with the promise of a much larger salary. His family moved to Burma in November 1920 and settled in Yenangyaung, where Holmes spent two years frantically searching for new oil finds to save the struggling company. Loyalty to the company kept him working long after the then bankrupt company stopped paying him, and before they finally returned to England in late 1922, Norman died from severe dysentery.
Without an institutional affiliation, Holmes could not secure funding to continue his research. For a while he worked in a fur, brass goods, and knickknack shop that he opened with Maggie's cousin. His marriage was deteriorating, but soon Maggie was pregnant with their second son, born in February 1924. The year Geoffrey was born, the University of Durham happened to be expanding its science programs and they needed a reader for geology. Holmes gratefully accepted the offered position. The follow ing year he became head of the geology department, of which he was the only faculty member. He was a popular lecturer, and the few students who came through the geology department each year thought he was a fair teacher and a caring mentor.
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