The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1553) Private James Charles Martin, 21st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Accession Number PAFU2015/435.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 25 October 2015
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (1553) Private James Charles Martin, 21st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1553 Private James Charles Martin, 21st Battalion, AIF
DOD 25 October 1915
Photograph: P00069.001

Story delivered 25 October 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private James Charles Martin.

“Jim” Martin was born in 1901 in Tocumwal, New South Wales, to Charles and Amelia Martin. He was interested in the military and served with the cadets while at school, going on to work as a farm hand.
When war broke out in 1914 Martin was eager to enlist with the Australian Imperial Force, taking the place of his father, who had been turned down for active service. It is believed that Jim threatened to run away and join under another name, and so both of his parents signed a letter of consent, allowing Martin to enlist as an 18 year old. He successfully enlisted in April 1915 and, after training for a short period at Broadmeadows Camp, left Australia on 28 June 1915.

Martin continued his training on arrival to Egypt, noting that “everything is Desert and work”. In August 1915 he wrote to his parents to say he was packing up to go to the Dardanelles “to have our share of the Turks”, as he put it. He left the following day.

On 2 September 1915 the troopship Southland, aboard which Private Martin was travelling, was torpedoed in the Aegean Sea about 40 miles from the island of Lemnos. A subaltern on board later described the attack: “a sentry shouted ‘My God! A torpedo!’ We watched the line of death getting nearer until there came a crash and the old ship reeled.” Martin was one of hundreds of soldiers who boarded lifeboats and waited hours for aid. Almost all on board were successfully rescued, and later continued their journey.

In October Martin wrote home from Gallipoli, asking his family to “write soon as every letter is welcome here”. He had not received any letters since leaving Australia, despite writing home regularly, and he called it “very disheartening to see all the others getting letters from home and me not getting even one”. The 14 year old detailed life on the peninsula, writing:

we have been in the trenches about a month now so we are more used to
it. It is very quiet where we are so we are not seeing much of the fun.
Now and again we give a few rounds rapid fire and the Artillery … send
a few extra shells … Don’t worry about me as I am doing splendid over here.

Martin was highly spoken of by others in his platoon. Sergeant Coates later said that he had “never had a man in his platoon who paid more attention to his duty”.

Less than three weeks later Martin fell ill, and on 25 October was evacuated to a hospital ship with typhoid fever. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, Private Martin died of heart failure shortly
afterwards. He is considered to be the youngest Australian to have died on active service during the First World War. He was buried at sea from the hospital ship Glenart Castle three months short of his 15th Birthday.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among the more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private James Charles Martin, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the
service of our nation.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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