Gunner William Martin


William Martin was born on 4 December 1889 at Corrintra, Castleblayney, County Monaghan, the second of at least three children of farmer Thomas Martin and his wife Margery Anne (nee Livingstone). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Corrintra with his widowed mother and younger brother and working on the family farm.

Martin enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Castleblayney on 5 February 1913 (No.814).

He was mobilised at the beginning of the war but on 18 August 1914 deserted from the regiment at Belfast. It was not until 16 October that he surrendered himself at Antrim. Five days later he faced a field general court martial charged with desertion and losing by neglect his equipment and 'regimental necessaries'. Found guilty, Martin was sentenced to 35 days' detention and stoppage of his pay to make good the loss of his kit.

After his detention Martin returned to duty with the regiment at Antrim. On 3 July 1915 he was charged with creating a disturbance in his hut after 'lights out'. His pass was stopped for one month. He was sent on a cookery course at Dublin the following month.

On 17 November 1915 Martin embarked for France with F Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division. On 26 December he was awarded five days' Field Punishment No.2 for being drunk the previous day (Christmas Day).

In June 1916 F Squadron joined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and most of its men transferred to the infantry. After a brief period of training at the 36th (Ulster) Division's Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, on 20 September Martin was transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers and soon after was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. He was issued regimental number 41180 and posted to D Company. He probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

On 28 December 1917 Martin was one of twenty-four former North Irish Horsemen who transferred from the 9th (NIH) Battalion to the Tank Corps (No.304871). Following training at the Tank Corps Depot at Bovington near Wareham, Dorset, Martin was posted to the 15th (Heavy) Battalion with the rank of gunner.

On 8 July 1918 he returned to France with the 15th Battalion, operating mostly Mark V* tanks. The battalion saw a great deal of action during the Advance to Victory offensive, including at Amiens (8-9 August), Albert (21 August), Second Bapaume (30-31 August), and Canal du Nord (27 September).

Martin returned to the UK on 22 January 1919 and a month later (20 February) was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.