Private James Charles Martin
|Birth date:||03 January 1901|
|Birth place:||Australia: New South Wales, Tocumwal|
|Death date:||25 October 1915|
|Death place:||At sea (Glenart Castle)|
|Service number:||1553 - First World War, 1914-1918|
|Unit:||21st Australian Infantry Battalion|
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.
Rolls and Awards
- Rank: Private
- Date of Death: 25 October 1915
- Unit: 21st Australian Infantry Battalion
- Rank: Private
- Date of embarkation: 28 June 1915
- Place of embarkation: Melbourne
Letter dated 9 October 1915 written at Gallipoli by Pte James Martin to his parents in Australia, and presentation copy of the New Testament. Private Martin is believed to be the youngest known Australian soldier to die during the First World War.
Maker: Martin, James Charles
Letter dated 26 August 1915 written by Pte James Martin from Heliopolis, Egypt, to his parents in Australia. Private Martin is believed to be the youngest known Australian soldier to die during the First World War. Bereavement card sent to Martin's parents by Mr & Mrs Gibbons after Pte Martin's...
Maker: Martin, James Charles
Research notes relating to Private James Charles ('Jim') Martin, believed to be the youngest Australian soldier to die at Gallipoli in the First World War, compiled by Anthony Hill while writing his book "Soldier Boy". Related to PR83/061 and PR85/339.
Maker: Hill, A R
Three original letters handwritten by Private James Martin 21st Battalion, to his family from camp in Victoria, and later during service on Gallipoli. Also includes three letters of condolence to his family following his death (one from the Matron on board HM Hospital Ship Glenart Castle, Matron...
Maker: Reddoch, Frances Hope Logie
Letter and card relating to the First World War service of Private 1553 James Martin, 21st Infantry Battalion. In the letter to his parents, Martin, writing from Heliopolis, reassures them thgat he is well and states that he is about to leave for the Dardanelles to fight the Turks. Also included is...
Letters and certificates relating to the First World War service of Private 1553 James Martin, 21st Infantry Battalion. Believed to be the youngest Australian soldier killed in war, Martin has written several letters to his parents from training camps in Australia and from the trenches at Gallipoli...
|Date of birth||1901-01-03|
|Military unit||1915-04||1st reinforcements, 21st Battalion AIF|
|Embarked for Egypt||1915-06||On HMAT Berrima|
|Date of embarkation||1915-06-28|
|Date of death||1915-10-25|
|Evacuated from Gallipoli||1915-10-25||On hospital ship Glenart Castle|
|Embarked for Gallipoli||1916-06||On HMT Southland|
|Landed at Gallipoli||1916-09-08|