Private James Charles Martin

Service Number 1553
Birth Date 03 January 1901
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Tocumwal
Death Date 25 October 1915
Death Place At sea: Nearest landform, At sea (Glenart Castle)
Also known as James Charles Martin, Jim Martin, Martin, Jim
Final Rank

James Charles Martin was born at Tocumwal, New South Wales, on 3 January 1901. Keen for all things military, Jim joined the cadets at school and the year after leaving school he took up work as a farm hand. In 1915, Martin was eager to enlist with the Australian Imperial Force. His father had previously been rejected from service and Jim, the only male child of his family, was keen to serve in place of his father. Anyone under the age of 21 required written parental permission to enlist, and although Martin looked old for his age and his voice had broken he could not pass for a 21-year-old.When Jim threatened to run away, join under another name and not to write to her if he succeeded in being deployed, his mother reluctantly gave her written permission for him to enlist. Martin succeeded in enlisting at the age of 14 years and 3 months, almost 4 years under the minimum age. After training for several months at Broadmeadows Camp, he departed with the 21st Infantry Battalion from Melbourne aboard HMAT Berrima on 28 June 1915.From Egypt Martin and the other reinforcements of the 21st Battalion were deployed to Gallipoli. Their transport ship was torpedoed en route by a German submarine and Martin and several others spent hours in the water before being rescued. Martin eventually landed on Gallipoli in the early hours of 7 September and took up position near Wire Gully. In the following few months casualties from enemy action were slight, but the front-line work, short rations, sickness, flies, lice, and mosquitoes took their toll on the unit. Martin sent several letters to his parents from Gallipoli. In late October he contracted typhoid fever and was evacuated to hospital ship HMHS Glenart Castle on 25 October 1915. By this time he had lost half his weight and was in a bad state. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff aboard, in particular that of Matron Frances Hope Logie Reddoch, Martin died of heart failure just under two hours later. He was three months short of his 15th birthday. Martin was buried at sea and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial on Gallipoli. The day after his death, Matron Reddoch wrote a heartfelt letter to Martin's mother back in Australia about her young son.While he may not have been the youngest Australian to serve during the First World War, James Martin is considered the youngest to have died on active service.
aJima 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 aeverything is Desert and worka. In August 1915 he wrote to his parents to say he was packing up to go to the Dardanelles ato have our share of the Turksa, 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: aa sentry shouted aMy God! A torpedo!a We watched the line of death getting nearer until there came a crash and the old ship reeled.a 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 awrite soon as every letter is welcome herea. He had not received any letters since leaving Australia, despite writing home regularly, and he called it avery disheartening to see all the others getting letters from home and me not getting even onea. 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 toit. 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 a senda few extra shells a Donat 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 anever had a man in his platoon who paid more attention to his dutya.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 shortlyafterwards. 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 theservice of our nation.


  • Roll of Honour

    Date of Fate
    25 October 1915
    Australian Army
    21st Australian Infantry Battalion
    First World War, 1914-1918
  • First World War Embarkation Roll

    Place of Embarkation
    Embarkation Ship
    HMAT Berrima A35
    Date of Embarkation
    28 June 1915
    First World War, 1914-1918


Date of birth 03 January 1901
Enlisted 1915-04
Military unit 1915-04 1st reinforcements, 21st Battalion AIF
Embarked for Egypt 1915-06 On HMAT Berrima
Date of embarkation 28 June 1915
Date of death 25 October 1915
Evacuated from Gallipoli 25 October 1915 On hospital ship Glenart Castle
Embarked for Gallipoli 1916-06 On HMT Southland
Landed at Gallipoli 08 September 1916

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