Joseph Martin

Private Joseph Martin, 1st/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) No: 57785.

Private Joseph Martin.

Joseph was born in Oakworth on June 28, 1894, registered Keighley. Parents Henry and Sarah Martin. Baptised at Christ Church, Oakworth on July 29. In 1901 he was six and living at 12, Sand Street in Haworth with parents and older brother Fred. Henry was a worsted weaving overlooker. By 1911 he was sixteen and still at 12, Sand Street, Haworth, with parents, older brother Fred and two younger brothers John and Angus. Joseph was employed as a house painter for a local painter and decorator. Joseph enlisted in the Army on August 4, 1917 at Keighley. Age 23 years 36 days. Service number 46594. Training reserve. On November 23 he transferred to 3rd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment. Joseph entered France on March 17 1918 and joined his battalion in the field on March 26. He was posted missing on April 25, during a significant attack by enemy forces on our front lines. Joseph was presumed to have died on this date (killed in action). No known burial place and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing at Somme in France.

War diary entry for 1st/5th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, April 25, 1918:
IN THE LINE. GRANDE BOIS 25th April: At 2.45 am the enemy put down a gas barrage and some H.E. on the Batt'n front and also on the back areas, he also used a considerable amount of smoke shells. Bombardment lasted for over an hour but gas respirators were removed at 4.50 am as the gas appeared to have cleared although the atmosphere was still very thick from the smoke shells. Companies all reported OK up to this time. At 5 am the enemy put down a very heavy barrage on the Batt'n area and around Batt'n HQ making movement there almost impossible. Telephone wires were soon cut and touch was lost with the Companies. S.O.S. signals were sent up from Batt'n HQ at 5.15 am as it was evident that the enemy was about to carry out an action on the batt'n front. The enemy apparently attacked the Batt'n front and on the fronts of the Batt'ns on either flank between 5 and 6 am. Messages were received from B and D Companies at about 7 am stating that the enemy had attacked but had been driven off up to the time of despatching the messages. No further communication was received from the front line Companies. 'D' Company formed a defensive flank to the North of GRANDE BOIS and was seen later holding a position and then fighting a rearguard action. At 7 am the enemy appeared at the Northern Brickstack S.E. of GRANDE BOIS. There is practically no information regarding the fighting in the front line, as the enemy appear to have broken through well outside the flanks of the Batt'n and worked round to the rear of the front line companies. There must have been a strong resitance by the Batt'n as the enemy did not come forward down to the Wytschaete (sic) Ridge until about 9.30 pm or about 4 hours after the attack commenced. The casualties suffered by the Batt'n were 18 officers and 548 OR killed wounded/missing.

Keighley News report 1st June 1918, page 3:
Private Joseph Martin (West Yorkshire Regiment), of Coldshaw, Haworth, is reported missing. He joined the Army in August last year, and went to France in March. He was formerly employed by Mr Heaton Whitaker, of Oxenhope. He was an old Haworth Church choirboy, and for several years took the soprano solos.
Joseph was posthumously awarded the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal for his war service. He is remembered on the Haworth Great War Memorial at Bridgehouse Lane, and on the Haworth Roll of Honour board in St Michael and All Angels Church, Haworth and on the family grave in Haworth Cemetery on Penistone Hill in Haworth.
He is also named on the Haworth Oddfellows roll of honour in the care of Wyedean Weaving in Haworth.
His younger brother Angus was killed in action in WW2 on Feb 10, 1942.

Source information:
Birth, marriage and death records.
1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
Army service records.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
National Archives war diary for 1/5th Prince of Wales' Own West Yorkshire Regiment. WO95-2801

1 Response

  1. Joseph Martin was the brother of my grandfather Frederick Martin of the Machine Gun Corps who survived WW1 and returned to marry Nellie Raistrick and they lived at Thorn Bank on Hebden Bridge Road. His youngest brother Angus Martin died of wounds recieved at the Battle of El Alamein in Egypt during WW2. A few years ago I was working in Egypt and visited the Commonwealth cemetery at El Alamein. His name appears on the wall at El Alamein as he died on a hospital ship and was buried at sea in the Gulf of Aden.

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