MARTINDALE Thomas Obediah 1897 – 1918


74225 Private Thomas Obadiah Martindale, 1st Battalion, Notts and Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) died of wounds 23 September 1918, aged 21.  He is buried at Terlincthun British Military Cemetery, Wimille, France and commemorated[1] on the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

Thomas Obediah Martindale was born in 1897 [2] at Stanhope, County Durham, the son of Thomas and Isabella Martindale.  There were at least 3 children:[3]

  • John William Patterson born 1886 at South Church
  • Sarah Hannah Isabella bc.1894 at Stanhope
  • Thomas Obadiah bc1898 at Stanhope

In 1891, 33 years old Thomas, Isabella and William lived at Windy Side, Stanhope[4] where Thomas was employed as a lead miner.  By 1901, Thomas and his family lived at Front Street, Stanhope where Thomas was employed as a, “draper and grocer, own account”.[5]  By 1911, Thomas and family lived at Church Street, Witton Park where 53 years old Thomas was recorded, “out of health”, presumably out of work due to ill health.  John, now 24, was employed as a, “Licensed Oil Merchant”.  Thomas was then 13 years of age, about to leave school. [6]

Thomas’ brother serving as 4229 Private John William Martindale, 7th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry died of influenza 25 April 1916, aged 29.  He is buried at Bishop Auckland (Escomb) Cemetery.[7]

Military Details

1 March 1916, Thomas O. Martindale attested at Bishop Auckland, aged 18 years 11 months and was enlisted into the Army Reserve.  His occupation was a shop assistant, address being Main Street, Witton Park.[8]  He was a Primitive Methodist and his next of kin was recorded as his father, Thomas Martindale, Main Street, Witton Park.[9]

16 November 1916, he underwent a medical examination at Sunderland.  He stood 5’10” tall and weighed 145lbs.[10]  

31 July 1917, he was mobilized and was posted to the 4th Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment, being given the service number 205797.

24 January 1918, Private Thomas O. Martindale was transferred to the 7th Battalion, the Notts & Derby Regiment, Sherwood Foresters and given the new service number 74225.  He joined from the depot in the field, 29 January 1918 and was at Etaples by 1 February 1918.[11]

30 March 1918, he was then transferred to the 1st Bn., Notts & Derby Regiment, Sherwood Foresters, being posted 17 June 1918.[12]

The 1st Bn., the Notts. & Derby Regiment known as the Sherwood Foresters was a Regular Army battalion which returned to England from India at the outset of war and landed at Le Havre, France in November 1914.  It came under the orders of the 24th Brigade, 8th Division.[13] The battalion remained on the Western Front throughout the war taking part in nearly all the significant actions.  During 1918, the 24th Brigade comprised the following units:[14]

  • 1st Bn., the Worcestershire Regiment
  • 2nd Bn., the East Lancashire Regiment until February 1918
  • 1st Bn., the Notts & Derby Regiment, Sherwood Foresters (1/SF)
  • 2nd Bn., the Northamptonshire Regiment
  • 24th Machine Gun Company until 20 January 1918
  • 24th Trench Mortar Battery.

Private Thomas O. Martindale served with 1/Sherwood Foresters between 17 June to 23 September 1918, when he died of wounds.  He was wounded 28 August 1918.

1/SF War Diary confirms the following movements and actions.  Having travelled north west from Soisson to Abbevile, the battalion was in training at Dargnies when Private Thomas O. Martindale joined.  Training continued until 19 July, the battalion entrained from Woincourt station to Aubigny then went forward via Villers au Bois to the Mericourt sector.   22 July, the 24th Brigade relieved the 155th Brigade, 1/SF was in reserve.  30 July, 1/SF moved up to the support trenches.  They were relieved by 1/Worcester Regiment, 7 August.  It had been a quiet tour of the line although Vimy was subject to some shelling.  The brigade was relieved by the 60th Brigade and orders were received for it to go to the Oppy section.  Relief was completed 16 August.  Gas shells were projected onto enemy trenches, 19 August which stimulated a response 22 and 23 August.  The following day was quiet and 1/SF relieved 2/Northampton Regiment, 25 August.  The next few days would see increased offensive action along the front and Private Thomas O. Martindale would be one of many casualties.

To the south, between 26 and 30 August, a major Allied action took place, later to be known as the Battle of the Scarpe.  The 25th Brigade of the 8th Division was involved here when the British First and Third Armies attacked from Arras in an attempt to break the German Drocourt-Queant Line.[15]

The 24th Brigade, 8 Division, including 1/SF was located to the north near Neuville St. Vaast in an area identified as “Lens 11”.  Orders were received to conduct a series of advances to take enemy front line positions.  Presumably, this action was designed to keep the enemy front line troops occupied in areas near to the main battle areas, so that “local” reinforcements could not be sent there. 

At 11.10pm, 26 August, the War Diary confirms that the battalion moved forward and encountered severe opposition at the junction of Severn Alley and Arleux Loop trenches, in the form of machine gun fire and bombers.  Also 4 strong points were located forward of Ouse Alley, south of Oppy Wood.  Men occupied positions in Beale Trench to Blandford Trench.  The next day, patrols pushed forward to Albert Trench but again serious opposition was met in Oppy Wood.  Bombing encounters were numerous.  28 August hand to hand fighting took place in the vicinity of Blandford Trench and Baker Street.  Lieut. Sheehan was killed by a shell whilst in enemy trenches.  During the night 2/Northampton Regiment relieved 1/SF in the left sub-section.  The battalion withdrew to Post Trench.  On this day, 28 August 1918, Private Thomas O. Martindale was wounded in action, believed to be shrapnel wounds to the chest.[16]  He was evacuated and treated at 26 Field Ambulance then to  32 Stationary Hospital. [17]

The fighting continued throughout the 29 and 30 August in the vicinity of Blandford Trench.  Bombing and enemy artillery was very active.  31 August, orders were received to the effect that it was unnecessary to push forward any further.

A report dated 1 September by Lt-Col. Mitchell on operations carried out between 26 and 29 August contains the following statements:

“During the afternoon 28th, at least 3,000 bombs were thrown by us, 1,000 of which were German stick bombs salved by us in their line.

Our casualties amounted to nearly 100, most of which were from shell fire.

In the individual fighting, the known enemy casualties inflicted by different individuals enable us to state that more enemy were killed than ours.

The sense of proportion in which one looks at battle like this changes according to the particular phase of the war.

In the early stages, an engagement causing 100 casualties would have been considered quite an event, now it is a mere detail.

Nevertheless, for the Battalion it was a very stiff battle, the enemy was driven off repeatedly with loss, and the grit and bravery of all ranks was worthy of the highest praise.”

The period of Private Thomas O. Martindale’s service can be logically divided into 3 phases:

  • 17 June to 25 August: Training and duty in the trenches during quiet periods.
  • 26 to 31 August: Action in the trenches
  • 1 – 31 September: Hospital

Later research records that between 17 June and 25 August, 13 Other Ranks were killed in action or died of wounds, between 26 and 31 August, 25 Other Rank were killed in action or died of wounds and during the month of September 17 Other Ranks died, 2/3rds of whom died of wounds including Private Thomas O. Martindale, 23 September 1918.[18]  It seems that Private Thomas O. Martindale was hit by a shell or bomb (hand grenade) but almost 4 weeks of hospital treatment could not save his life.

The final year of the war was the most-bloody in terms of casualties and the final weeks saw unprecedented numbers of casualties on both sides.  The comments made by Lt-Col. Mitchell reflect this. 

Awards and Medals

Private Thomas O. Martindale was awarded the Victory and British War medals.[19]

Medal Roll Card Index


74225 Private Thomas O. Martindale, died 23 September 1918, aged 21 and is buried at grave reference IV.B.29, Terlincthun British Military Cemetery, Wimille, France.  His mother Isabella organised for the following epitaph to be inscribed on his headstone:[20] 

Thy Will be Done


Thomas O. Martindale’s mother Isabella received his effects [21] and pension.  At this time, Isabella lived at Main Street, Witton Park,[22] and later at Somerset House, Witton Park.[23]


Thomas O. Martindale was the second son of Thomas and Isabella, to die in the war.  He was mobilized in July 1917, arrived in France by February 1918 and posted to a front line unit, 1st Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters in June 1918.  His first real action was 28 August when he was fatally wounded.  He died of his wounds almost 4 weeks later, 23 September, aged 21 and is buried at Terlincthun British Military Cemetery, Wimille, France.  Thomas’ brother serving as 4229 Private John William Martindale, 7th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry died of influenza 25 April 1916, aged 29.  He is buried at Bishop Auckland (Escomb) Cemetery.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.288 Auckland 1897 Q2

[3] 1891, 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1891 census

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[8] Army Form B.2512

[9] Descriptive Report on Enlistment

[10] Army Form B.178

[11] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form – Active Service

[12] Statement of the Services




[16] Military History Sheet

[17] Army Form B.103

[18] Officers Died in the Great War & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[19] Medal Roll card index and Roll of Individuals entitled to V and BW medals dated 20 April 1921

[20] CWGC

[21] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.759972

[22] Pension card index

[23] CWGC