MARTIN, George Allan

No.202972, Private, George Allan MARTIN
Aged 19

8th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on 31st July 1917

George Allan Martin was born on 26th April 1898 (2nd qtr 1898 Thingoe 4a:580), son of Frederick C and Margaret MARTIN (née SHARPE).

1901 census...Aged 3, he was at Thwaites Cottages, Great Saxham with his father Frederick MARTIN [55] farm bailiff born Hargrave; his mother Margaret [45]; brothers Frederick W [9], Charles H [5] and Reginald [2 months]. All except his father born in Saxham

1911 census...Aged 12, he was at Thwaites, Great Saxham with his parents, brother Charles H (farm labourer) and grandfather William SHARPE

On the pension card his mother was at Great Saxham

His mother was the sister of Caroline (mother of Leonard)

His cousin Leonard was killed in June 1915, they are both named on panel 21 on the Menin Gate see here

He enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds
The action was the battle of Pilkhem Rudge, first day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres (now known generally as Passchendale). This offensive cost the British 310,000 casualties. Imagine advancing to fight through a field of mud, then add in the fact that in the ten days leading up to the attack, 4.25 million shells were fired by our artillery alone. The 8th Service Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment were involved in the attack on Pilckem Ridge as part of 53rd Brigade. They reached their assembly point at 2 am on 31st July and by zero hour (3:50) had established HQ. at Wellington Crescent. During this move enemy shelling set fire to some dumps and a tank, lighting up the ground. As "C" Coy.was passing through Zillebeke a shell burst amongst them, killing and wounding several. The attacking division, through which the 53rd Brigade were to leapfrog when the 1st objective was taken, moved off and the 8th Suffolks and 6th Royal Berkshire waited for front line reports that would tell them the way was clear for their advance.
By a tragic mistake the 30th Div infantry wheeled to their left and attacked Chateau Wood instead of Glencorse Wood. This misleading information that Glencorse Wood was in our hands led to the 53rd Brigade plunging into a fatal gap. Some did reach the line of the 1st objective. Lt Bolingbroke with scouts, went forward to clear Sanctuary Wood and place signposts to guide the companies. Sniper fire made this a precarious operation but the message was sent back that 30th Div were on the north of the Menin Road and in Chateau Wood.
Despite machine gun fire a platoon of B Coy got up to Lt Bolingbroke's position and they decided to attack the second line (Surbiton Villa) with what troops they could collect, without waiting for support. In severe fighting around Surbiton Villa a party of "A" Coy managed to wipe out a machine gun post.The battalion got onto the Menin Road near Clapham Junction and advanced several hundred yards beyond it before they were checked and forced to shelter in shell holes. That was the end of the attack as the Germans were in great strength around Glencorse Wood. Casualties were 3 officers killed, 4 wounded, OR 35 killed, 109 wounded, 26 missing

Whilst waiting here a cock pheasant alighted about fifty yards ahead. A runner shot the bird, carrying it out of battle on the end of his rifle, probably not the first time he had killed game without a licence!

George Martin is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres panel 21

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details