Private John Martin


John Martin was born on 9 February 1891 in Avenue Road, Lurgan, County Armagh, the second of nine children of clerk (later commission agent) James Martin and his wife Sarah Jane (née Archer). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Ann Street, Lurgan, with his parents and his seven surviving siblings, and working as a linen manufacturer's assistant.

Martin enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 29 April and 1 May 1915 (No.1503 – later Corps of Hussars No.71409). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and 1918, probably with E Squadron on 11 January 1916.

In May 1916 E Squadron came together with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

At the beginning of October 1918, during the Advance to Victory offensive, E Squadron was camped east of Epehy, near the German defences on the St Quentin Canal. The squadron war diary recorded:

[1-2 October] Attached 100th Inf Brdge 33rd Division. Sent out a patrol under 2/Lt Downey to reconnoitre Canal de St Quentin ... preparatory to small raiding operations on following night which however never took place.

[3 October] 15 ORs Gassed by gas shelling. Sqdn moved forward to Battn H.Q. owing to report that enemy were retiring. This did not prove to be the case, so Sqdn moved back to previous location and were engaged in afternoon on salvage work.

Martin was one of the men gassed that day.

On 3 February 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.