Private James Charles (Jim) Martin is thought to be the youngest Australian to die on active service.

He was born in Tocumwal, NSW on 3 January 1901. Having just left school to work as a farmhand, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1915 at the age of 14 years and 3 months. He told the recruiting officers that he was 18.

He joined the 1st Reinforcements of the 21st Battalion with the service number 1553 and trained at Broadmeadows and Seymour Camps in Victoria. In June he left for Egypt on the troopship HMAT Berrima. He embarked for Gallipoli on the steamer HMT Southland, "to have our share of the Turks" (letter to his family, 26 August). However, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off Lemnos Island and Martin spent four hours in the water before rescue.

Private Martin landed with his battalion on Gallipoli on 8 September. They were stationed in the trench lines near Courtney's Post on the ridge above Monash Valley. He wrote to his family (4 October) that "the Turks are still about 70 yards away from us... Don't worry about me as I am doing splendid over here." But on 25 October he was evacuated to the hospital ship Glenart Castle suffering from enteritis. He died of heart failure that evening and was buried at sea. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli.

 

Portrait of Jim Martin
Portrait of Jim Martin, thought to be the youngest soldier to die while on active service in the Australian Imperial Force.
AWM P00069.001

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