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The Wartime Memories Project - Remembering those who served during The Great War

The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War

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Those Who Served


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Pte. James Richard Martin

Army Yorkshire Rgt.


Pte. James Charles Martin

Australian Imperial Force 21st Infantry Battalion


(d.25th Oct 1915)

James Charles Martin was born at Tocumwal, New South Wales, on 3 January 1901. Keen for all things military, Jim joined the cadets at school and the year after leaving school he took up work as a farm hand. In 1915, Martin was eager to enlist with the Australian Imperial Force. His father had previously been rejected from service and Jim, the only male child of his family, was keen to serve in place of his father. Anyone under the age of 21 required written parental permission to enlist, and although Martin looked old for his age and his voice had broken he could not pass for a 21-year-old.

When Jim threatened to run away, join under another name and not to write to her if he succeeded in being deployed, his mother reluctantly gave her written permission for him to enlist. Martin succeeded in enlisting at the age of 14 years and 3 months, almost 4 years under the minimum age. After training for several months at Broadmeadows Camp, he departed with the 21st Infantry Battalion from Melbourne aboard HMAT Berrima on 28 June 1915.

From Egypt Martin and the other reinforcements of the 21st Battalion were deployed to Gallipoli. Their transport ship was torpedoed en route by a German submarine and Martin and several others spent hours in the water before being rescued. Martin eventually landed on Gallipoli in the early hours of 7 September and took up position near Wire Gully. In the following few months casualties from enemy action were slight, but the front-line work, short rations, sickness, flies, lice, and mosquitoes took their toll on the unit. Martin sent several letters to his parents from Gallipoli. In late October he contracted typhoid fever and was evacuated to hospital ship HMHS Glenart Castle on 25 October 1915. By this time he had lost half his weight and was in a bad state. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff aboard, in particular that of Matron Frances Hope Logie Reddoch, Martin died of heart failure just under two hours later. He was three months short of his 15th birthday. Martin was buried at sea and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial on Gallipoli. The day after his death, Matron Reddoch wrote a heartfelt letter to Martin's mother back in Australia about her young son.

While he may not have been the youngest Australian to serve during the First World War, James Martin is considered the youngest to have died on active service.


James Martin

Canadian Expeditionary Force 7th Btn.

James Martin was captured at Ypres. He was sent with a work party to the Geiswand Iron Works in Westphalia.


Gnr. John E. Martin

British Army C Btty. 78th Bde Royal Field Artillery

from:Chester le Street, Co Durham

(d.19th Apr 1917)

Lying in the military cemetery at Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines are three headstones of soldiers of "C" Battery of the 78th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, all members of the same gun team, who were killed outright on the night of the 19th April 1917. In the middle is Driver Peter McGuiggan, aged 26 and on either side of him are Gunner J. E. Martin, aged 34 and Gunner Albert Seymour Lloyd MM, aged 23 The War Diary of the 78th Brigade records that the Brigade was positioned at Monchy in foul weather and under constant barrage. All three were killed instantly when their gun recieved a direct hit from enemy shelling during the night of the 19th April 1917.

Gunner J. E. Martin came from Chester-le-street in County Durham and I unfortunately know little of his pre-war life or occupation. They lie together these three comrades, two geordies and a welshman.


L/Cpl. John Martin

British Army 15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry


(d.6th Aug 1917)

John Martin served wit the 15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. He was aged 21 when he died on 6th August 1917. Born in Jarrow in 1896 son of William Edward Albert and Agnes Martin (nee Hargraves) of 102 Sunderland Street Houghton-le-Spring. He lived and enlisted in Houghton-Le-Spring. On the 1911 census he is listed as John Martin age 14 Pony Driver underground in Colliery living with his parents William Edward Albert and Agnes Martin and family at 2 Rose Street, Houghton-le-Spring.

John is buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery Ficheux.


Rfmn. John G Martin

British Army 1st/16th Btn. London Regiment Queens Westminster Rifles

(d.1st July 1916)

John Martin served with the Queens Westminster Rifles 1st/16th Battalion London Regiment. He died on 1st July 1916.


Pte. John Haddon Samuel Martin

British Army 9th Btn. Cheshire Regiment

from:Poplar, London

(d.2nd Nov 1916)


Pte. Lancelot Lucien Martin

British Army Dorset Yeomanry

from:Ashmore, Salisbury

(d.21 Aug 1915)

Lancelot Lucien Martin, my Great Uncle, was born in 1893 in Tarrant Keyneston Dorset, son of Montague Francis and Carrie Martin, nee Voss, of Manor Farm, Handley, Salisbury. Lancelot was killed in action on 21 August 1915, aged about 22, in Turkey. He is remembered on the Helles Memorial panels 17 & 18. Private 957 Dorset Yeomanry (Queen's Own)


Pte. Leonard Martin

British Army 9th Service Btn. Sherwood Foresters

from:Ilkeston, Derbyshire

(d.22nd September 1916)


Pte. Leslie Henry Martin

British Army 5th Btn. South Wales Borderers

from:Elston, Nottinghamshire

(d.14th Oct 1917)

Private Leslie Martin, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Martin, was born in Elston, Nottinghamshire, and lived there with his family at Ivy House. Before joining the South Wales Borderers he was a member of the Army Service Corps. He died at home aged 19 after fighting in the Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders. He is buried in All Saints Churchyard, Elston, and is also commemorated on the All Saints Church War Memorial.


Cpl. Lewis Edwin Martin

British Army 6th Btn. East Kent Regiment

from:Ramsgate, Kent

(d.7th Oct 1916)


L/Cpl. Nathan Vincent Martin

British Army 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment


(d.5th Oct 1918)

Nathan Vincent Martin served with the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment. He was aged 19 when he died on 5th October 1918. Born in Jarrow in 1898 he was the youngest son of Nathan and Mary Jane Martin (nee Short) of Jarrow. On the 1911 census he is listed as Nathan Vincent Martin age 12 at School living with his widowed mother Mary Martin and family at 9 Randolph Street, Jarrow. He enlisted in South Bank, Middlesbrough.

Nathan is buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery Wimile.


Sgt. Percival John Martin

British Army 20th Btn. The London Regiment



2nd Lt. Rankin Martin MM.

British Army 176th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers

from:Kelvingrove, Glasgow

(d.12th July 1918)

Martin Rankins was killed in action on the 12th of July 1918, aged 31 and buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension in France. He was commissioned from the ranks having previously served as a sergeant with the Royal Fusiliers. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Robert and Isabella Martin, husband of Mary Blakely, of 6 Radnor Street, Kelvingrove, Glasgow.


A/Cpl. Richard "Duckser" Martin

British army 6th Btn. Royal Irish Regiment

from:Black Abbey, Kilkenny, Ireland

Richard Martin was wounded at the battle for Guillemont and Ginchy. I don't know if he served to the war's end.


Pte. Richard Martin

British Army 18th Btn. Durham Light Infantry


Pte. Richard Edward Martin

British Army 2nd Btn. Hampshire Rgt.

(d.18th October 1916)


Pte. Thomas Martin

British Army 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles

from:314 Springfield Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland

(d.6 May 1916)

This story was given to me by Mark Scott and involves an incident which took place on the night of 5th May 1916 in Hamel, Thievpal Wood and the 'Sunken Road' near Authuile, Somme, France. My great Uncle, Tom Martin, was one of the men killed. He is buried in Authuile Cemetery.

"A few months ago I was handed a diary by a relative which had belonged to my Great Grandfather, Company Serjeant Major James Scott of the 14th Royal Irish Rifles who was killed in action at Messines in January 1917. When I say 'diary' I mean a pre-printed 1916 pocket diary similar to what we would buy today only with a military slant. For instance maps of France, morse code, semaphore diagrams and general 'field craft' aide memoirs. It then had the usual day/date sections to be written in by the owner. James had not filled it in on a daily basis, in fact only six pages had been written on. The first of these pages was headed "Killed on the night of 5th May Authuile Nr. Martinsart." There was then a list of 10 names. The other pages contained surnames and addresses around Belfast.

I decided to investigate what had happened on the night of 5th May on the assumption that these were my Grandfathers' men. The addresses had ticks or crosses added beside them and at first I could not work out why but I now know that James was granted home leave in October/November 1916 and I now believe that he visited these addresses, and those ticked he got to visit, those with crosses he didn't or couldn't before returning to the front and his death a few months later. Looking back down the years, and with not much left to give us the character of the man, It gives me a good feeling to know that for whatever reason he noted down the names in the book with the intention perhaps of visiting the next of kin of his platoon who had fallen. At the end of the day, he didn't have to write anything at all. Unfortunately James couldn't finish the job.

I now know that on the night of 5th May 1916 the Battalion were holding the front line at Thiepval Wood, Somme in France. They were warned to 'stand to' as the Battalion on their right flank, the 15th Lancashire Fusiliers, had planned to carry out a raid on the German lines opposite and they wanted the Rifles to be at the ready in support if required. On the stroke of midnight a British bombardment opened up on the German lines, ahead of the raiding party. In retaliation, about 20 minutes later, the German artillery bombarded the R.I.R. lines thinking that this was where the then anticipated raid would come from. As a result a trench collapsed and the men manning it were buried alive. The remaining men struggled for hours in attempting to dig out those buried as a result 10 men were killed there and then and around 20 wounded with a few more dying of wounds and injuries at later dates. Five men were awarded the Military Medal for their actions and gallantry that night in trying to free their colleagues while under bombardment and machine-gun fire from the enemy lines. The result being the line of graves at Authuile Cemetery (all of the men killed that night are buried in a row alongside each other)."


Pte. Thomas Neill Martin

British Army 16th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles

from:53 Mount Street, Dromore, Co. Down

Thomas Neill Martin, eldest son of Robert James Martin and Agnes Sarah Bell was born in Dromore, County Down on the 29th May 1897. He had one younger brother also called Robert James and 3 sisters Minnie, Agnes Sarah and Ellen Ann. His father was a Boer War veteran and the 1901 census discloses that his uncle Thomas John Bell was helping his sister look after young Tommy and Minnie whilst their father was in South Africa. Thomas John Bell was later to be killed just a few days before the Battle of the Somme in WW1 not far from the relative safety of trenches his nephew had probably helped to construct..

Tommy enlisted in the call to arms on the 7th November 1914, joining the Second County Down Volunteers in Lurgan on the 14th November. This was later renamed as the 16th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Pioneers) acting in the main role of Pioneer Battalion for the 36th (Ulster) Division.

His Regimental number was 16/124 but I do not know to which Company, Section or Platoon he was allocated. However I know he served with that Battalion throughout the First World War until early September 1918, when he was transferred back to England in the Labour Corps (Number 64877)

From Jeffrey Martin (author of Dromore’s Great War Heroes), “ The Dromore Weekly Times photocopy (for the following Saturday 21st November 1914) details a T. Martin (Mount Street) who enlisted that same week. I cross checked the article that I copied when the T.Martin medals were for sale and low and behold he is number 16-124 ! In other words, he was in the queue 22 places in front of my grandfather ( Sgt.Walter Martin). As I have a keen interest in the 16th Bn RIR, I know for a fact that men with these low numbers joined on the first day, in the second to third week of November, because by xmas numbers were up to about 800 and they imported 14th Bn. RIR men in Jan and Feb 1915 to bolster the 16th Battalion's numbers to the required 1200 establishment.”

His medals are the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Special Constabulary Long Service Medal (EIIR) "Ulster" and a Battle of the Somme Commermorative Medal, also the Silver War Badge. The Special Constabulary "Ulster" Medal is a rare and dear to buy medal on its own. The fact that the word "Ulster" appears on the reverse of Tommy’s Special Constable Medal indicates it was issued on or after 1956, and that Thomas Martin saw service with the Crown during a period of over 40 years" The Somme Commemorative medals were only given to veterans returning to the Somme who fought there in 1916 or 1940 (WW2). In his case WW1 obviously. They were issued on special occasions such as the 40th or 50th anniversary (1956 or 1966) and indeed there were even some in 1976 for the few remaining veterans,

In the details listed with the medals it says that he was transferred to the Labour Corps (this generally indicates the man was wounded or incapacitated even by shell shock etc), able to do some work but not fit (no disrespect) for front line duty. His Labour Corps number was 648737 - a number series issued in the UK around September 1918. He was also given what was known as a Silver War Badge, this was so that when you went home you could wear it on your civilian clothes to show you had served and were injured and not "a shirker" as some would say. He was discharged on 27th November 1918. Though the war was over, it was still important to wear it as many including Jeffrey's grandfather did not return until March 1919 or later. The fact that the word "Ulster" appears on the reverse of Martin's Special Constables medal indicates it was issued on or after 1956, and that indicates that Thomas Martin saw service with the Crown during a period of 40 years"

I met and married Tommy’s granddaughter Marie in 1962 and got to know Tommy for a few years. I never spoke to him about the past and he rarely mentioned the war years like many of his generation. Tommy died on the 8th September 1969 and regrettably Marie and I were in Italy at the time, so she never had a chance to say goodbye to her dearly loved Granddad. Neither of them got to see the grandchildren for whom I have written a summary of the Battalion’s experiences from 1914 to 1919 which I wish to share with others interested in the exploits of these men in conditions we all find so difficult to comprehend.


Pte. Thomas Martin

British Army 24th (Tyneside Irish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers

from:Easington Colliery

(d.1st July 1916)

Thomas Martin is named on the Thiepval Memorial


Pte. Thomas Martin

British Army 24th (Tyneside Irish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers

from:Easington Colliery

(d.2nd Sep 1916)

Thomas Martin is named on the Artois Memorial


L/Cpl. William Martin

British Army 2nd Btn. Northumberland Fusiliers

(d.8th May 1915)


Pte. William Martin

British Army 9th Glasgow Btn. Highland Light Infantry

from:Glasgow, Scotland

(d.26th Sep 1917)

My Grandfather William Martin was killed in action on September 26, 1917 in Flanders/France. He was the husband of Elizabeth Anderson Campbell and they had one son, my father, William Martin. All three were born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. I have the original notice of death addressed to my grandmother who was living at the Maryhill Barracks. My grandmother remarried a man named Samuel Taggart in 1920 and they immigrated to Canada in 1923. They lived the rest of their lives in a small town north of Toronto on the shores of Lake Simcoe, Ontario. My father also served with the Canadian Forces from 1939 to 1944 being wounded in action.


A/CQMS. William Charles Martin DCM.

British Army 9th Btn. Welsh Fusiliers



Pte. William Martin

British Army 62nd Btn. Machine Gun Corps

from:17 Crabtree Road, Hockley, Birmingham

(d.12th Sep 1918)

William Martin was the son of the late Thomas Martin and husband of Gertrude Fanny Martin, of 17 Crabtree Road, Hockley, Birmingham. He was killed in action aged 32, leaving behind his wife and 3 year old son, also named William. William Martin is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in France.


Pte. William Martin

British Army 1st/6th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers


(d.12th Sep 1916)


Sgt. William Martin

British Army 4th Btn. Lincolnshire Regiment

from:Dundee, Scotland

William Martin is my grandfather. I do not know much of his war years and am trying to find out more. He was a pioneer farmer in Western Australia.


Pte. William Martin

British Army 13th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles

My great uncle Bill Martin served with the 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles in the 36th (Ulster) Division. A farmhand from Newtownards, he was 17 when he enlisted on 22nd of February 1915. He fought alongside his cousins and friends in France. He was wounded with shell-shock and was hospitalized in France and England before being discharged for medical reasons on 15th of June 1917. He returned to Newtownards and worked outdoors on farms, which was recommended to ease his nerves. In 1928 he emigrated to Toronto in Canada, where he later married and had one daughter.


Pay Sjt. Herbert "Squirt" Martindale

British Army 1st Btn. Manchester Regiment

from:Longsight, Manchester

My Father's brother, Uncle Bert served in India. A few postcards have recently been found stuck in an old album and I have been able to detach them from their glued positions to reveal messages from Khandahar barracks in Fyzabad India. They were sent to my Father and his family and are dated between Dec 1917 and April 1918.

He speaks of the intense heat in March - 107 degrees and the Smallpox and Bubonic plagues and says the people are "dirty" and their straw houses had to be burned to the ground, so they were given tents to live in. He also says not to worry about him because he is in the "Land of Plenty" and he refers to parcels he has sent over requesting to know whether they have arrived so that he can have receipts. I was told that he sent ivory and brass ornaments and a cigar and he mentions a tin of tea and sugar. He says he expects the unit to be moved, the move abroad was cancelled but there is to be a move within India. I don't think that came about as in the April 1918 postcard he thinks "--this is the last few months of the war." His brother, my Father, didn't have a good war, he was badly wounded in Ypres while all this was going on.

Uncle Bert was in Hong Kong in the Military Police force at some time and was partially blinded due to an accident. He later married and two of his children are living. Having just telephoned one of them he tells me his Father first was at Hydrabad, and he referred to Fysabad as "flies are bad"!! The posting to Hong Kong was around 1920.


Lt. John Bell Martindale

British Army 2nd Btn. North Lancashire Fusiliers


(d.1st Aug 1918)

John Martindale was born in 1887, the son of John Johnstone Martindale and Jessie Martindale, of "Lansdowne," Hawthorn Lane, Wilmslow. He died of his wounds on 1st August 1918 and is buried at Senlis French Cemetery at Oise.

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