No. 17423, 8th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed in action on Friday 18 May 1917 (aged 24)
Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave N. 66)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919
for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
James Martin was born on 9 June 1892 in Greyabbey and he was a son of Robert and Ellenor (Ellen) McGowan Martin (nee George) who were married on 8 January 1892 in Greyabbey Presbyterian Church. Robert Martin, a widowed blacksmith from Drumfad, was a son of James Martin, a blacksmith. Ellenor McGowan George (aged 19) from Ballycastle was a daughter of John George, a labourer.
The Martin family lived in Greyabbey before moving to Mill Street, Newtownards and then to 23 Little Francis Street, Newtownards.
Robert Martin was a blacksmith and he and Ellen had at least eight children:
James (born 9 June 1892 in Greyabbey)
Jane (Jeannie, born 14 April 1894 in Greyabbey)
Agnes (born 16 May 1897 in Ballycastle; family home, Mill Street, Newtownards)
David John (born 4 February 1901 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Samuel George (born 18 May 1903 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Henry King (born 26 September 1905 in Little Francis Street, Newtownards)
Hugh William (born 27 January 1907)
Flora George (born 28 November 1910 in Little Francis Street, Newtownards)
James and Jane Martin were baptised in Greyabbey Presbyterian Church and the other children were baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.
James Martin worked first with his father as a smith’s helper and then as a block printer in the Ulster Print Works, Newtownards.
On 1 September 1914 James Martin enlisted in Dublin, he joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and in July 1915 he went with the 10th (Irish) Division to the Dardanelles.
The following month he took part in the landing at Suvla Bay Gallipoli.
After a period of active service, he contracted dysentery and was taken to England where he was in hospital for some time.
When he recovered he was attached to the 8th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 49th Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division and he left Londonderry for France on 12 April 1916.
After Private James Martin was killed by shellfire on 18 May 1917 the Rev W.J. McConnell, the Presbyterian Chaplain who conducted his funeral, wrote to James’s father to express his sympathy.
The Rev McConnell wrote, ‘His body rests in peace. The shells still scream over that quiet little spot but his soul is now in higher service.’
One of James Martin’s brothers was also on active service and the Martin family placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle.
It contained the verse:
The shock was great, the loss severe,
We little thought the end was near;
It’s only those who have lost can tell
The pain of parting, not saying farewell
In subsequent years Private James Martin was remembered in newspaper In Memoriam notices inserted by his family and the one in 1918 contained the verse:
Short was thy life, my darling son,
But peaceful be thy rest;
The ones that miss you most of all
Are those who loved you best.
Private James Martin (No. 17423) was buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.