Many Stockport families suffered the loss of a son during the War. A much smaller number lost two sons. But the postman's dreaded visit came three times to 5 Etchells Street, the home of Thomas and Mary Finnerty. William was the first to be killed. The grieving will hardly have been over when, in fairly quick succession in 1917, news came that Martin and Thomas had also been killed.
Thomas Finnerty and Mary Conell had married in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport in the early 1880s. Thomas originated from Ireland and the couple were probably Roman Catholics. In those days, Catholic churches were not licensed for marriages although they almost certainly would have had a wedding ceremony before the civil one. When the 1901 Census was taken, the family was at Etchells Street and there were six children - Mary (then 13), Thomas (10), Martin (8), William (5), Joseph (3) and Ann (5 months).
Newspaper reports describe Martin as a "popular member of St Joseph's Young Men's Society. It is not known what he did for a living. He enlisted at Stockport, being drafted into the local Territorial Battalion. His original service number, 4580, confirms he was not an early volunteer and may well have been conscripted sometime in 1916.
On 31 July 1917, he took part in a major attack on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), described here. It's believed that Martin was a member of the Battalion's Lewis Gun Section. The Section comprised several two-man teams. One would fire the light machine gun; the other would be responsible for ammunition supplies. They would have gone forward to support the attack of the regular infantrymen. At some point during the day, Martin was wounded. He was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station, some miles away, where there were full surgical facilities. Once stabilised, he was taken to 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville, where he died some weeks later. This was a time before modern antibiotics had been invented and treating post-trauma infection was very difficult.