Serjeant 12225 Samuel Henry Martin, MM & Bar

Martin Samuel Henry 96 356x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 23rd March 1918, age 32.
Commemorated on Panel 19 to 21 of Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France.

11th Bn., Royal Fusiliers. 54th Brigade of 18th Division.

Born: Silverdale, Enlisted: Newcastle, Staffs., Resident: Silverdale.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: Military Medal & Bar, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1585246/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Samuel Henry Martin registered March quarter 1886 at Wolstanton.

1901 Census
23 Freehold Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs.
Alvery Martin (46, Gardener - not domestic, born Newcastle), his wife Anne (36, born Newcastle), and their 7 children: Connie (16, born Newcastle), Henry (15, born Newcastle), Frederick (13, born Newcastle), Alice (11, born Newcastle), Douglas (7, born Newcastle), Alvery (5, born Newcastle), and Nellie (3, born Newcastle).

Marriage of Samuel Henry Martin and Mary Hazeldine registered March quarter 1910 at Newcastle under Lyme.

1911 Census
97 High Street, Silverdale, Staffs.
Living with his brother-in-law George James Harvey was:
Samuel Henry Martin (25, Colliery Labourer above ground, born Wolstanton), his wife May (23, born Market Drayton), and their son Samuel Henry (4 months, born Silverdale).

Personal Data

The Tipton Library Memorial commemorates S.H. Martin, the 'Staffordshire Roll of Honour' shows Sgt S. H. Martin, Royal Fusiliers.

'Soldiers Died in the Great War' CD has 39 men with surname Martin who died serving with the Royal Fusiliers, none of these have any obvious Tipton connection. Of these 39 men there is only one named Samuel and he was a Sergeant which matches the Tipton list, however he is recorded as born and resident in Silverdale in the Potteries, and has no obvious Tipton connection.

As there is no alternative, it would seem that this is the man commemorated, however it is not clear why he is on the Tipton Library Memorial. Possibly his wife moved to Tipton, or maybe he had a relative who lived in Tipton who nominated him.

Samuel Henry Martin remains a bit of a mystery.

After Samuel's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £7/10/0d (7 pounds and 10 shillings), this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Mary, in July and September 1918. His War Gratuity was £17/0/0d (17 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Mary in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Samuel had enlisted in February 1915.

Action resulting in his death

The German Spring Offensive began on 21st March 1918 along a 50-mile front from south of Ypres, through Flanders and to the 1916 Somme battlefields. This represented a last throw of the dice for a German victory before the might of the American Army was brought to bear.

All along the front the Germans made progress and casualties were heavy on both sides. At the end of the first day, the British line had taken a massive blow and had retreated in many places, but had held.

The 54th Brigade, including the 11th Royal Fusilers, were ordered to withdraw to behind the Crozat Canal, near Jussy, and to prevent the Germans crossing the canal. This was in the Aisne Department, 30 miles south-west of the old Somme battlefield, and just 65 miles from Paris.

22nd March
The general picture was of a fighting withdrawal with strategic places selected for determined opposition. This is the position of the 11th Royal Fusiliers near Jussy, ordered to hold the line of the Crozat Canal. After a trying day of hard and bitter fighting, the line of the canal had been held.

23rd March 1918
After 36 hours of desperate, bitter fighting, the Fusiliers still held their lines near Jussy. They were not aware that the Division to their left had withdrawn leaving their flank exposed. About 11 am, the Germans forced their way across the canal, and the entire Brigade was ordered to withdraw. The orders did not reach the Fusiliers. Gradually they were overwhelmed by the sheer force of numbers coming across the canal at Jussy and, by the time they decided to retire without orders, it was far too late. The out-flanking Germans had set up machine guns on the escape route causing further casualties. Groups of helpless survivors without ammunition surrendered as they realised the situation was hopeless.

At the close of 23rd March, only 2 Officers and 26 Other Ranks of the 11th Royal Fusiliers answered roll call from a starting strength of over 650. Over 60 men had been killed over the 2 days, the majority, like Samuel Martin, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel, April 13th 1918
News has been received by Mrs. Martin, 31 Church Street, Silverdale, that her husband, Sergt. Samuel Henry Martin, Royal Fusiliers, has been killed in action. He was 32 years of age, and on the 3rd May last year was awarded the Military Medal for gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field. He was home on furlough in October 1917, and 14 days after his return to the front was awarded a bar to his medal. In a letter to Sergt. Martin’s wife, a fellow sergeant, a native of Hanley, who is wounded and in hospital, states that Sergt. Martin was struck by a fragment of shrapnel on March 22nd, and was killed instantly. Prior to his enlistment, Sergt. Martin was employed at the Silverdale Collieries. He leaves a widow and one child.