31 March 1918

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Frederick Singleton Martin

In April 1918 James Edward Bishop Johns, a driver with the 3rd Divisional Train in France, sent a letter home describing the death in action of his friend Frederick Singleton Martin, a chaff cutter from Orange:

Poor old Fred was killed on the night of March 30th. Fred was in the band, and, when there was any fighting on, acted as stretcher bearer, which is a very dangerous task, and I am told he did his work wonderfully well. A little time ago the band was reorganised, and some of the members had to drop out on account of the strength being reduced. Fred volunteered to join the Lewis gunners, and was accepted. On the regrettable day above mentioned our brigade received orders to proceed post haste to stiffen a Tommy division at a place where Fritz was giving a lot of trouble, and threatened to break through our line any minute, capture Amiens, and thus divide the two armies which would have had fatal results. We were rushed down and that night the boys were in the line. It was between a place called Hangar and Villers-Bretonneux where poor Fred was killed, together with most of his mates who were on the gun at the time. He was shot through the head and died instantly. Five of them were buried together. It is impossible to get to the grave at present, but, as soon as there is an opportunity, I will find it and look after it. The sad news of his death came as a great shock to me, as there was hardly a week passed without I saw him. He was always the same, quiet, hearty and smiling. There was only one thing that troubled him, a thing that troubles many of us—”sick up to the neck of the job,” but he died a hero at his post.

Frederick was born in Singleton in 1893, the fourth of nine children of James Henry Martin and his wife Mary Elizabeth (nee Bishop). When Fred was a young boy the family moved to the Orange district, taking up residence at Endsleigh in Bloomfield.

Young Fred attended Orange East Public School. In March 1913 he was awarded third place in the Lower Fifth boys’ class first quarter examinations. He developed an interest in music during his school years and also served with the Senior Cadets. He later became a member of the Orange Rifle Club.

In September 1915 Frederick enlisted at Dubbo. He was assigned initially to the 18th Battalion, 13th Reinforcement as a private. He embarked for overseas service on 5 June 1916, and in September transferred to the 33rd Battalion.

In November 1916 he proceeded to France, where he served on the Western Front. In early 1918 Fred enjoyed two weeks’ furlough in England, rejoining his unit on 24 January. Following his death in action on 30 March, Frederick’s personal effects were sent to his mother. They consisted of a wallet, some photographs and cards, and three cloth badges.

Frederick Singleton Martin is commemorated on the Orange East Public School Honour Roll, the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph, on panel number 122 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte FS Martin”; it was donated by Orange District School. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

 

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30 March 1918

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29 March 1918

Would you kindly call on my mother, who at the present time is in need of sympathy from some kind-hearted person like yourself. I have just lost my brother, Walter

Mrs Cornish would lose two sons during the war, Edmund would be killed in action in August 1918; a third son, Thomas, was invalided home suffering from shell shock. A Soldier’s Thanks

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28 March 1918

Sopwith Camels of the 4th Squadron Australian Flying Corps, Bruay, 26 March 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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27 March 1918

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26 March 1918

General Ferdinand Foch c1914. Image in public domain.

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25 March 1918

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A Holiday Wound

A Holiday Wound by Trooper Blugum

When Dingo Dick of Company 3 Anzac Battalion I.C.C.
Got winged in the arm with shrapnel shell
He wrote some letters his folks to tell.

“Dear Mother,” he wrote, “the danger’s past,
I’ve got my holiday wound at last—
A beautiful wound you can hardly see,
But it means a bonzer spell for me. I’m in the A.G.H. 14
I sleep in a bed so nice and clean;
There’s tons of baccy and beer in Cairo
And the papers will call me a “blanky hero,”

So mother was happy and mighty proud
Tho’ her hair was grey and her back was bowed.
A similar lie Dick pitched to his gal;
But here are the facts he wrote to his pal:
“Say, Bill, we’ve just had a hell of a fight,
I lay in Nobody’s Land all night;
My arm was smashed to a lump of meat,
And what with the flies and thirst and heat,
And the wound that throbbed and burned so bad,
I felt I must go raving mad.
For sixteen hours I stewed out there; I wanted to pray; I could only swear.

“I was done when the stretcher-bearers came;
They looked at my disc to find my name,
“Poor Dick’s a goner,’ one of ’em said;
Says I, “You’re a liar, I’m far from dead.
So they carried me back to the ambulance,
‘Cos one of them thought I might have a chance,
They out off-my arm to save my life,
So I’m finished with Camels and War and Strife.”

“P.S.—Dear Bill, when Mollie you see,
Tell her I’m as happy as I can be,
But don’t let on, about all this rot—
Just say it’s a “holiday wound” I’ve got.

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To Paint a War author talk, Orange Regional Gallery 28 March 2018

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