Home' The Canberra Times : See Canberra Autumn Contents "It's a brave thing, Jimmy lad," his father
said. "A decent thing, to want to join. But
you don't have to do this..."
"I've made up my mind, dad. If they don't
want you, they can have me instead."
"But you're only just fourteen," his mother
"If you let me go -- if you sign the consent
-- I'll write to you and stay in touch. But if
you don't...well, I'll run away and join up
under another name, and you won't hear
from me at all."
is heartbreaking ultimatum sealed his
fate and his mother had no choice but to
sign her consent on April 10, 1915 for her
only son to go to war.
Two days later his family farewelled him
and he made the journey to the Melbourne
Town Hall recruiting office. Jim passed the
assessments with flying colours, was even
described as the "fittest specimen we've seen
all day" by the attesting officer, and was
assigned to the 1st Reinforcements of the
Rumours made their way around the
training camps about when they would be
sent to fight and on June 28 they broke camp
for the pier at Port Melbourne. Onboard the
troopship HMAT Berrima, bound for Egypt,
Jim Martin waved goodbye to his family as
they blew kisses, not knowing it would be the
last time they saw him.
Egypt was just a short stop for Jim before
he embarked for Gallipoli on the steamer
HMT Southland. e trip was interrupted
when a German submarine torpedoed the
ship. Jim spent a traumtic four hours in
the water before being rescued. Despite
the violent disruption, Private Martin
landed with his battalion on Gallipoli on
ey were stationed in the trench lines
near Courtney's Post on the ridge above
Monash Valley. Jim made good on his word
and wrote to his family at least once a week,
however he never received the letters they
Just after a month at Gallipoli, he began
to fall sick and on October 25 he was
evacuated to the hospital ship Glenart Castle
suffering from typhoid fever.
An extract from Soldier Boy reads;
" e orderlies carried young Jim Martin
on a stretcher down to the wards below
decks, and laid him on a bed. His first bed
for months. ey stripped his uniform,
filthy with lice and his own excreta. ey
cleaned his pitifully thin body: for the
young soldier, once tall and strong, had lost
half his weight." He was given water and an
injection of morphine to ease the pain as he
drifted in and out of conciousness.
In his collapsed state, with infection
coursing through him, Jim Martin's body
failed. He died of heart failure less than two
hours after boarding the ship.
ey buried his frail body at sea the next
day.Within two months of his death, his true
age became public knowledge in an article
in the Melbourne Herald.
To this day Jim Martin's story is retold
and has become a part of the Anzac legend.
His name is recorded at the Australian
memorial at Lone Pine and on the
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
is Anzac Day take part in the Dawn
Ser vice, listen to the lone bugler play the
Last Post, stand proudly as the national
anthem is sung during the ceremony and
afterward, place a red poppy beside the
names of your relatives on the Roll of
Honour; while you're there, take a moment
to think of Jim Martin and all the other
soldier boys who never came home.
"You can't!" his mother cried. "You're too young...
you're only a boy... tell him Charlie!"
Share the city you live in ... Autumn 21
Anzac Day -- Dawn Service
Where: Australian War Memorial, Campbell
When: April 25
Phone: 6243 4211
FAMILY: Group portrait of 1553 Private James
(Jim) Martin, of Hawthorn, Vic, with his five
sisters. Image supplied by the Australian War
American Express International, Inc. (ABN 15 000 618 208, AFSL No. 237996). Incorporated with Limited Liability in
Delaware U.S.A. ® Registered trademark of American Express Company.
LEST WE FORGET: A poppy beside Jim Martin's name on the Roll of Honour at the
Australian War Memorial.
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