Martin J


21052, Private Samuel Martin, 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers was killed in action 26 May 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages.  He was the husband of Rebecca Martin, 8 Brantwood Terrace, Tindale Crescent, Bishop Auckland.[1]

He is named as “J. Martin” on the memorial panel but evidence indicates that he served as Samuel Martin but he may have been known to his friends as “James”.

Family Details

Samuel Martin was born 1868[2] at Beechburn, Co. Durham the son of Henry and Elizabeth Martin.[3]  There were at least 6 children:[4]

  • William bc.1861 at Whitworth, Durham
  • Joseph bc.1866 at Beechburn
  • Samuel born 1868 at Beechburn
  • Thomas bc.1870 at Tow Law
  • David bc.1873 at Wolsingham
  • Alfred bc.1876 at Crook

There was also a half brother and half sister:

  • Frederick Allen bc.1878 at Crook
  • Lucy E. bc.1879 at Crook

Samuel’s father died in 1873.[5]  His mother Elizabeth married Thomas Allan in 1877.[6]  The 1881 census records Samuel’s mother as 41 year old Elizabeth Allan.  She was head of the family.  Samuel Martin has not been traced in the 1891 census but in 1901, 33 year old Samuel is described as “a soldier.”  He lived at Shildon as a “boarder” to 37 year old Rebecca Iveson and her son 15 year old William Iveson.[7]  Samuel and Rebecca married in 1903 [8] then known as James Martin.  By 1911, a James Martin, aged 42 and his wife Rebecca, aged 48 lived at 1 Brantwood Terrace, Tindale Crescent, Bishop Auckland with a boarder, 25 year old William Iveson.  James and Rebecca had been married for 8 year.[9]  James worked as a coal miner (hewer) and William was a blacksmith for Wilson’s Forge.[10]

The CWGC records Samuel Martin being the husband of Rebecca Martin, 8 Brentwood Terrace, Tindale Crescent, Bishop Auckland.  His age was given as 51, thus being born c.1864.  The Birth Index and census details infer that he was born c.1868 therefore it seems that he was about 47 years old when he was killed.

It is probable that Samuel Martin was a regular soldier serving from the mid 1880’s and into the early 1900’s and despite his advanced age was “called-up” for service. He may have volunteered.

Service Details

The service records of 21052 Private Samuel Martin and the War Diary of the 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers have not been researched.  The 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers was a regular battalion of the British Army which returned from India in December 1914 and joined the 84th Brigade, 28th Division.  Other units of the 84th Brigade were:

  • 1st, Bn., the Suffolk Regiment
  • 2nd, Bn., the Cheshire Regiment
  • 1st, Bn., the Welsh Regiment
  • 1/1st, Bn., the Monmouthshire Regiment
  • 1/12th, Bn., the London Regiment

The Division landed in France 18 January 1915.[11]  The battalion moved to the area between Bailleul and Hazebrouck and took part in the following actions as part of the Second Battles of Ypres:

  • 24 April – 4 May: Battle of St. Julien
  • 8 – 13 May: Battle of Frezenberg
  • 24-25 May Battle of Bellewaarde [12]

Private Samuel Martin arrived in France 3 May 1915 [13] and was killed in action 26 May 1915 as the Battle of Bellewaarde concluded.  The 2/NF lost 63 other ranks 26 May 1915. [14]

21052 Private Samuel Martin was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[15]


Private Samuel Martin has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial which is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.  The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.  The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient and in the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war.  The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. It was unveiled 24 July 1927. [16]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.229 Auckland 1868 Q1

[3] 1871 census

[4] 1871 & 1881 census

[5] England & Wales Death Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.164 Auckland 1873Q1

[6] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol10a. P.280 Auckland 1877 Q2

[7] 1901 census

[8] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.70 Darlington 1903 Q2

[9] 1911 census

[10] 1911  census


[12] &

[13] Medal Roll index card

[14] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[15] Medal Roll index card

[16] Commonwealth War Graves Commission


Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres Martin S.

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres
Martin S.

One thought on “Martin J

  1. Pingback: ST.HELEN’S AUCKLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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