No. 7616, 4th & 1st Battalions, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 30)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919
for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
John Martin was born on 20 July 1885 in Mill Street, Newtownards and he was a son of John and Mary Martin (nee Malcolmson) who were married on 7 July 1879 in First Lurgan Presbyterian Church. John Martin, a weaver from Moyraverty, was a son of John Martin, a weaver. Mary Malcolmson (aged 20) from Moyraverty was a daughter of John Malcolmson, a weaver.
The Martin family lived in Moyraverty, Lurgan before moving to Newtownards where they lived in Frederick Street, Mill Street, John Street and John Street Lane.
John Martin Senior was an agricultural labourer and he and Mary had four children:
Mary Jane (born 1 December 1879 in Moyraverty)
Francis Russell (born 29 June 1883 in Frederick Street, Newtownards)
John (born 20 July 1885 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
David (born 2 April 1890 in John Street, Newtownards)
They also had an adopted daughter called Mary Frances Malcolmson Martin (two years old in 1911).
Mary Ann Gibson was born on 25 May 1909 in Donaghadee Road, Newtownards and she was a daughter of James and Mary Eleanor Gibson (nee Malcolmson) who were married on 12 August 1908 in Conlig Presbyterian Church.
Francis Russell was baptised in Regent Street Presbyterian Church, Newtownards and David was baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church, Newtownards.
John Martin worked first as a tailor’s apprentice and then as a garden labourer. He and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Morris were married on 24 November 1904 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). John Martin (aged 19) from Newtownards was a son of John Martin, a labourer. Lizzie Morris (aged 19) from Newtownards was a daughter of William Morris, a labourer.
The Martin family lived at 45a East Street Newtownards.
John and Lizzie Martin (nee Morris) had seven children:
Mary (May, born 16 February 1905 in East Street, Newtownards)
John (born 4 December 1906 in East Street, Newtownards)
Maggie (born 6 March 1908 in East Street, Newtownards; died of febrile diarrhoea 29 August 1908)
William (born 25 January 1910 in East Street, Newtownards)
Frank (born 4 October 1911 in East Street, Newtownards)
Thomas (born 30 May 1914 in East Street, Newtownards; died of enteritis 15 September 1914)
James (born 1 January 1916 in East Street, Newtownards)
The five children who were still surviving when their father died ranged in age from six months to eleven years.
John Martin enlisted in Newtownards, he joined the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was then posted to the Western Front to reinforce the 1st Battalion.
He was attached to the Machine Gun Section and was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
His wife Lizzie placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Away in a nameless grave in France,
My loving husband doth lie;
He gave his life for his country,
What nobler death could he die?
Sleep on, dear husband, your battle’s o’er,
Your duty on earth is done;
You fought for liberty and honour,
And the prize of life you won.
Only in form we both are parted,
But our hearts will true remain;
And one day we’ll be united,
Never more to part again.
In subsequent years Lizzie placed In Memoriam notices in the Newtownards Chronicle and in 1917 and 1918 they contained the verses:
A loving husband, true and kind,
Missed by those he left behind;
Forget him, no, I never will,
As years roll on I love him still.
Sunshine passes, shadows fall,
Love’s remembrance outlasts all;
From memory’s page it cannot blot
Three little words, Forget-me-not.
Rifleman John Martin (No. 7616) has no known grace and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s) and in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.