The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5073) Private Frederick Singleton Martin, 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.286
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 13 October 2019
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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

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 , the story for this day was on (5073) Private Frederick Singleton Martin, 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

5073 Private Frederick Singleton Martin, 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF
KIA 30 March 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Frederick Singleton Martin.

Known as “Fred” to his friends and family, Frederick Martin was the youngest of 12 children born to James and Mary Martin. Frederick was born in 1893 in Singleton, New South Wales, and he grew up in Orange, attending Orange Public School. As a young man, he joined the Orange Rifle Club and was a member of the Senior Cadets.

Martin enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Dubbo in September 1915. After an initial period of training in Australia, he embarked from Sydney in June 1916 on board the transport ship Kyarra. Disembarking in August at Plymouth, England, Martin went to Larkhill Camp on the Salisbury Plain. He trained there until November 1916. Among other aspects of basic training, he learnt how to use a Lewis light machine-gun in a team of three men. Martin joined the 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion, the majority of whose men came from northern New South Wales like himself.

Sailing for France in November 1916, Martin and the men of the 33rd Battalion suffered the effects of the harsh winter of 1916 and 1917 in the Ypres sector, on the border of Belgium and France. As the weather warmed up, the British and Commonwealth forces began a push into Belgium, and the men of the 33rd Battalion entered their first major battle at Messines in Belgium. They successfully captured their objectives in this battle, but were then subjected to a heavy German artillery bombardment lasting several days.

In October 1917, British commanders attempted to push the German forces out of Flanders with a series of major attacks. The 33rd Battalion took part in one of these, the disastrous battle of Passchendaele. This battle took place after a week of heavy rain, and the battlefield had become impossibly muddy. Soldiers, supplies, and artillery became bogged down, and the Australians suffered heavy casualties.

In January 1918, Martin had a fortnight’s leave in England, before returning in February to Kortepyp Camp in Belgium on the French border. Here the 33rd Battalion was engaged in training and camp maintenance. The unit also spent a fortnight at the front, repairing the posts and trenches under German artillery fire. At the end of March, Martin and his unit travelled by train south to the French village of Cachy, near the town of Villers-Bretonneux.

At this time, the Germans were preparing what would be their final large-scale attack of the war, which became known as the German Spring Offensive. One of the major thrusts in this offensive was on the Somme sector of the Western Front. On 30 March 1918, the men of the 33rd Battalion marched from their camp at Cachy to Hangard Wood, south of the Somme River. At 5 pm, the Australians launched an attack on the German lines.

With two other soldiers, Privates Neville Wilkinson and Ralph Hope, Martin was manning a Lewis light machine-gun during this attack. Their position was spotted by a German machine-gun crew, which fired upon each man as he took up the gun. The three Australian soldiers were killed in quick succession. Martin was buried in the vicinity of Hangard Wood. He was 25 years old.

Frederick Martin’s name is engraved on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, along with the names of nearly 11,000 Australians who died on the Western Front and who have no known graves.

Private Frederick Singleton Martin is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War. This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Frederick Singleton Martin, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5073) Private Frederick Singleton Martin, 33rd Australian Infantry Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)