Rank: Private
Number: 49402
Unit: 10th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 16 January 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Tancrez Farm Cemetery, Ploegsteert, Belgium

Martin was born in Silverdale, Lancashire, but by the time of the 1901 Census, was living in the Stockport area. The Census appears to list him twice - once, as a 2 year old, living in Stockport and, similarly, living in Cheadle Hulme. Similarly repeated details appear for his father, Thomas, who was working as a coachman. .

By the time of the Great War, Martin was living at 73 Lower Hillgate with his parents and was working at Sykes' bleachworks in Edgeley. He was a pre-war member of the local Territorial Army Battalion and, when it was mobilised in August 1914, Martin volunteered for overseas service. He was about 15 at the time - clearly underage for the Army, but a blind eye was turned to this in many cases. He was given the service number, 1985, and probably went overseas in the September. An account of the Battalion's early months of service is here.

It is, perhaps, reasonable to speculate that Martin's youth made him unsuitable for the rigours of life in the trenches and perhaps he was sent home at some point. Certainly, by around the late spring of 1916, he was issued with the above new number and assigned to the 10th Battalion.

On 9 October 1916, Martin took part in the attack described here. He was part of the group of 22 men who formed the bombing party mentioned in the account. For his bravery during this attack and for taking 2 messages whilst under heavy fire, he was awarded the Military Medal. He was still 18.

By early 1917, he was part of the Battalion's Lewis Gun section. Lewis guns were light machine guns operated by two-man teams. One man would carry and fire the gun; the other would carry and load ammunition. Also serving in the section was another local man, William Brunt.

On 16 January, the Battalion was in trenches at a position known as Despierre Farm, near the northern French town of Nieppe, close to the border with Belgium. This was a generally quiet sector throughout the war, but the Battalion's War Diary records "Enemy artillery bombarded our centre section held by "C" Company severely with 4.2s and shrapnel for about an hour. Considerable damage was done to trenches but only slight casualties were inflicted. 2 killed. 2 wounded."

Later, Lance Corporal Bob Henshall, who served with them, wrote to Martin's father telling him what had happened. Martin and William had been in their dugout in the trench sleeping "in the customary shoulder to shoulder fashion", when a shell had exploded close to them killing them both. Bob Henshall had had a lucky escape as he usually slept in the same dugout but that night had been ordered further along the trench.

© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
Close Search Window