Sgt. A.W. Martin


FIRST NAMES: Augustine W.

UNIT: 4th Yorkshire Regiment

NUMBER: 2215

STATUS: Killed in Action

DATE OF DEATH: 14th February 1916

CEMETERY OR MEMORIAL: Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm), Zillebeke, Belgium

AGE: 39


Sergeant Martin was born in Northallerton. He was married on 3rd November 1906 at Stockton Parish Church. His wife's name was Nellie (nee Harland) with whom he lived at 3 New Row, Northallerton and they had one son. Before the War he worked as an agent for the Refuge Insurance Company. He was a very accomplished athlete and particularly enjoyed cross-country running. He was also a member of the Northallerton Branch of the British Red Cross Society.

His photograph shows him in the uniform of the Army Service Corps and it is assumed therefore, that he was a member of this Corps before joining the 4th Yorkshires, with whom he was serving, in "W" Company, when he was killed.

He was killed, aged 39, near Ypres at approximately 5.00 pm. on 14th February 1916, after the Germans exploded a mine under a bombing sap in the British trenches near Hill 60. The blowing of the mine was preceded by a bombardment which began two hours earlier. The mine killed a total of 13 men. Two were dug out alive from a trench near the crater and one man, who had been blown 40 yards by the explosion, was found to be still alive, but died shortly afterwards. It is possible that Sergeant Martin was killed either by the mine explosion itself, or by a German sniper as he tried to dig his comrades out. The latter is believed to be true by his family who still have his prayer book, which appears to have been damaged by the bullet which killed him. He is buried in a single row of graves within the Cemetery which all contain the bodies of his comrades who were killed by the same mine explosion.

The following is an extract from a letter written to his wife by his Company Commander, Capt. N.W. Stead:

"It is with very great regret that I have to inform you that your husband was killed in action on February 14th at about 5.00pm. He died as I am sure he would have wished, in doing his duty, and one of his last acts was to move some men from a dug-out, an act which undoubtedly saved their lives. May I express on behalf of the Company and myself, our sincerest sympathy for you in your heavy loss, and assure you that we shall always remember the great example of patriotism and fearlessness under trying circumstances which he always showed.

He was an NCO we could ill afford to lose. Believe me."