Private 201314 William Henry Martin

Martin WIlliam Henry 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Tuesday, 9th October 1917, age 20.
Buried in Grave XXXIV. F. 2. at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

'B' Company of 1st/7th Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 144th Brigade of 48th Division.

Son of Mr & Mrs John Martin, of 22, Bloomfield Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 16th August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/463902/

Genealogical Data

Birth of William Henry Martin registered March Qtr 1897 in Dudley.

1901 Census
20 Workhouse Lane, Tipton, Staffs.
John Martin (34, Coal Miner, born Wolverhampton), his wife Emily (age 31, born Tipton), and their 5 children: Emily (11, born Tipton), John (8, born Tipton), William (6, born Tipton), George (4, born Tipton) and Agnes (7 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
15 Hipkins Street, Bloomfield, Tipton, Staffs.
John Martin (44, Coal Miner - Hewer, born Wolverhampton), his wife Emily (age 45, born Tipton), and 6 of their7 children of13: John (16, Labourer on Cinder Mound, born Tipton), William (16, Moulder, born Tipton), George (14, Moulder, born Tipton), Agnes (10, born Tipton), Job (3, born Tipton), and Laura (1, born Tipton).

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £4/3/1d (4 pounds, 3 shillings and 1 penny); this was paid to his father, John, in February 1918. His War Gratuity was £12/0/0d (12 pounds exactly), this was paid to his sister Emma Jane Hayes in February 1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in May 1915.

William is commemorated on St. John's Memorial as just W. Martin.

Action resulting in his death

The Battle of Poelcappelle began on 9th October 1917, the fourth of a series of "bite and hold" battles launched by General Herbert Plumer during the third Battle of Ypres. The first three battles had been successful, but by October 9th the rains had returned with 25mm falling in 2 days. This affected both manoeuvrability on the battlefield, and the effectiveness of the artillery.

The 1/7th Worcesters were a mile south-east of Poelcappelle attacking in a north-easterly direction towards Adler Farm; 600 yards beyond Adler Farm is the modern-day Varlet Farm. The Worcesters' approach to the jumping-off point had been extremely difficult due to the swamp-like conditions of the Steenbeek and Stroembeek valleys.

On the right of the 1/7th sector, 'B' and 'C' Companies attacked Adler Farm and the trenches to the north of it. A protracted struggle raged around these defences but eventually the defenders were out-flanked and captured; 70 of the enemy surrendered and 50 were found dead.

On the left and centre of the Battalion's attack, there was no such success for 'A' and 'D' Companies. They were attacking Inch House and Wallemolen where the German machine-guns commanded the ground. Every officer of 'A' Company was hit, Captain T.C.F. Harris (of Pedmore) of 'A' Company took command of 'C' Company and led their attack. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions that day and was later to write the letter of condolence to William Martin's mother. From this letter, we can infer that William Martin was a member of 'B' Company who had captured Adler Farm.

William is buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, about 5 miles north-east of Ypres; the majority of burials in Tyne Cot are post-war concentration burials as the battlefields were being cleared. William was buried here on 20th June 1920 after his body had been found about half a mile west of Adler Farm.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald November 10th 1917
Mr and Mrs John Martin, 22 Bloomfield Road, Princes End, have now lost their second son in the Great War, leaving them with two out of four.
The first to lay down his life for his country was George Henry Martin, who at the age of 18 was killed in the Dardanelles. He had only just turned 17 at the outbreak of war, and immediately joined the 7th South Staffs, he met his death on August 8th 1915. He had been employed by Messrs T.E. Salter Ltd.
An elder brother, William Henry Martin, aged 21, who was a collier at Harewood & Clark's Horseley Colliery, joined the army in February 1916 in the 3rd Worcesters, and had quite an adventurous time. On July 8th of the same year, in the course of the first big "push" on the Somme, he was wounded and buried by a shell. He was brought to a Birmingham hospital, and then to Dudley Guest Hospital, and back again to Birmingham. After a short time in a Yorkshire camp he returned to France on March 1st 1917, and at the end of April he was back in England, as an inmate of a Bristol Hospital, after being shot through the right leg. He recovered, and was sent out to France again on September 7th. He was killed on October 9th.
In a letter to the mother, Captain T. Cyril Harris (Pedmore, Stourbridge) writes:- "It is with deepest regret that I write to inform you that your son was killed in an attack made by the battalion. Your son had only lately re-joined us, and I can tell you how much he will be missed by us all. In battle he showed himself determined and utterly devoid of fear. By his death, the company has lost a very gallant soldier."
The two deceased brothers both learned moulding and fitting at T.E. Salter Ltd. The father and elder brother both work at Bloomsmithies Colliery. The two lads were much esteemed by their family. The older brother had written home several times since his last return to France, and his communications were cheery and optimistic."