Private William Martin


William Martin was born on 2 June 1898 at Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, the last of six children of hardware merchant George Martin and his wife Eliza Jane (née Cobain). His father died when he was just three years old. At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Fivemiletown with his mother and four of his siblings.

Martin enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron between 13 and 20 November 1914 (No. UD/156). On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with his squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. In August-September 1917 the Regiment was disbanded and its men, following training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Martin, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Martin was issued regimental number 41131 and was posted to A Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Martin was captured on 27 March 1918 at Erches, near Roye, at the end of the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin during the German spring offensive, when much of the battalion was overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Stendal and Metz in Germany. He was repatriated in late November or early December 1918.

On 2 April 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.


At least one of Martin's brothers, Lieutenant Thomas Martin, also served in the war.


This page last updated 14 February 2023.