Saturday, 20 February 2016

Brian Martin 1921-1945, age 24

Barnsley Chronicle 7th April 1945
Thanks to Barnsley Archives
Born: 1921 Q1 Barnsley

Son of: James and Bertha Martin nee Toyne. They married in Catherine's Church in Sheffield in 1916. James (1885-1963, died age 78) enlisted in the R.F.A. in 1915. Bertha, born in 1891 in Sheffield, died at the age of 46 in 1937. The couple had 5 children and three of their sons served in WW2. Brian was the second son and was unmarried. At the time of Brian's death the family lived at 2 Harvey Street, off Racecommon Road in Barnsley. 

Military Service: Brian was a Trooper in the Royal Armoured Corps, 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards), Service number 4697017.  

Death: 15th March 1945 in Burma.

Buried: Taukkyan War cemetery, Myanmar, Burma in grave ref 19.A.9. Brian had been originally buried at Mandalay War Cemetery. 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission link: here  
Remembered: Holy Rood Church WW2 book of remembrance, and the Co-operative war memorial, Barnsley 

The Barnsley Chronicle on 7th April 1945 reported:
Killed in Burma
Promising Barnsley Swimmer
A feeling of deep regret will be felt in Barnsley at the news that Brian Martin (24), second son of Mr James Martin, 2 Harvey Street, Barnsley has been killed in action during March in Burma. Brian joined the Army at the outbreak of war in the "Under 20's". Enlisting in the K.O.Y.L.I. he soon rose to the rank of Corporal. On transfer to the R.A.C. he was offered, but refused, a commission, as he wished to get on an overseas draft and resigned his rank. 
A well-known scholar of Holy Rood and Longcar Central he will best be remembered as a swimmer of promise. Captain of Longcar Central he helped to win many trophies for that school. Brain swam Squadron for Barnsley Swimming Club and assisted in many polo matches. Employed at Cundy Cross Branch he had held the Co-op Championship Trophy since 1936. He has two brothers, Denis and James D. Martin, serving with the R.A.F. and is a nephew of Mr W. Martin, President of the B.B.C.S. Ltd.

Personal memories:  Brian's youngest sister Pat and brother Don remember their brother with love and great pride.

" I know Brian was promoted first to Lance Corporal and then to Corporal and once or twice after that when he transferred to the RAC he was again promoted to Lance corporal and then demoted again.  Brian was a rebel and I'm sure he preferred being one of the lads. I remember being taken before the war to watch him play in a Co-op water polo match against Wakefield Police at Barnsley Baths. Brian had fouled the Police a few times and kept being sent out of the pool to sit on the side. It was at the end of the match when both teams were swimming to the sides that the Police made a concerted attack on Brian, ducking him several times. Brian broke surface grinning from ear to ear and called out "Help. Police!" The spectators roared with laughter. I have the silver Championship trophy cup that you mention." 

Brian's father received a letter from the wife of the second in command of the Regiment who was responsible for next of kin welfare and it is produced in part below, with thanks to Pat. 

"At Kadojeik, 2 tanks of no. 6 Troop were ambushed by Japanese infantry. Tpr Martin was driving the leading tank. It's armour was penetrated by an anti tank grenade fired at very close range, and the tank caught fire; all the crew evacuated. Meanwhile Lt Lothian, who commanded the other tank tried to manoeuvre in to a position from which he could cover them. But in doing so, his own tank was penetrated by a second grenade and he himself severely wounded. Ammunition in the evacuated tank started to explode and the crew, including Tpr Martin ran for our own lines. Some were killed immediately but Tpr Martin, fatally wounded managed to reach the forward infantry. He died in the F.A.P."  (our note: F.A.P. = First Aid Post)

Pat also says;
"The account differs from what I was told at the time. Sometime after Brian's death I remember being told that a soldier who had been in the same unit as Brian visited my Dad and told him that Brian was driving a tank with the 'lid' up. This was strictly against the rules but in the jungle the inside of a tank became like a pressure cooker and leaving the 'lid' up was common practice. He said that a Japanese soldier who was hiding up a tree threw a hand grenade into the tank and the rest of his story agreed with the official statement. I can't see why the soldier would have made the story up but I can see that the official statement would have been more politically correct."

Brian is remembered on the family gravestone in Barnsley cemetery which is inscribed with the words, 
DIED MAY 19TH 1937

1 comment:

  1. Very proud of my Uncle Brian. Also, I am very proud of his sister Pat, my mother. I am driving up to Barnsley from London, this coming weekend with my daughter, Brooke. We will be scattering my mothers ashes there, on the first anniversary of her death (21-05-16). Apart from Don the whole Martin family are now together again.
    Val Mitchenall, daughter of Pat Mitchenall nee Martin formally of 2 Harvey St, barnsley