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.
On 13 October 2019 Frederick Singleton Martin was commemorated in the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.