Walter Martin was born in Brighton, Sussex in 1890. His father, Edward, was born in Wivelsfield, near Lewes in Sussex and at the time of the 1891 Census was 34 years old and working as a Laundry Carrier. His mother, Emma Henrietta, was born in Rottingdean, Sussex, and in 1891 was 30 years old and was working as a Laundry Woman. Walter was a 1 year old and had a brother Edward William aged 3. The family lived at 13 Islingward, Brighton. When Walter was about 5, his mother died.
1901 the family were living at 73 Islingward, but Edward is by then married to Florence, aged 31, from Heyshott near Chichester, Sussex. Edward is now a Brewer’s Labourer and Edward William a Post boy for a printer.
In 1911 Walter is still living in Brighton but as lodger at 149 Queens Park Road, Brighton. He was a Bookkeeper for a Fruiterer and Florist.
It is difficult to establish where Walter lived in Welling or when he moved to the area. The only reason we are aware of him is the report of his death in the Chronicle and District newspaper dated the 16 August 1918 that states him as living in Welling. We are unable at present to find any further information.
We do know that Walter was a Rifleman in the 1/16th (County of London) Battalion (Queens Westminster Rifles), part of the London Regiment, which when Walter joined them was part of the 169th Brigade, 56th London Division. This Regiment was to recruit and provide 58 Battalions by the end of 1914 and provide a total of 82 during the war, 49 of which fought in France and Flanders.
This Battalion was part of a Territorial Regiment that was formed at Buckingham Gate in August 1914 and transferred to France during September that year. Walter joined the Battalion in Europe on the 2 September 1915. Walter’s original Service number was 3829 but the Battalions’ soldiers were renumbered later in the war. Walter’s new number being 556869. Owing to this it is difficult to establish exactly when Walter originally joined the Battalion but it was probably in 1914.
The Battalion were involved in the following actions whilst Walter was serving with them:
1916: The Somme.
1917: 1st and 3rd Battles of the Scarpe (Arras), Third Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Cambrai.
1918: The 2nd Battle of Arras (After Walters death).
Prior to his death the Battalion had been in action in the Dainville area south of Arras. This was a period when the British army was on the defensive following the German St Michael offensive that had started on the 21 March 1918. As part of the defence to ensure that Arras was not captured by the German Army the Battalion were in a part of the line known as the Telegraph Hill Switch for most of May. However the Battalion were taken out of the front line on the 1 June and put into support where they stayed until the 26 June. Although they saw no major action during this latter period the battalion still suffered casualties on a daily basis and this is possibly the time when Walter received wounds that would prove fatal.
Walter died of wounds in Rouen on the 23 June 1918, aged 29. This was a major base hospital 135 miles behind the front line which supposes that Walter probably died quite sometime after being wounded.
Walter is buried at St.Sever Cemetery ( Extention), Rouen, Seine Maritime, France. Grave Ref.Q.11. J.7.
He is not commemorated in any of the Welling and East Wickham Memorials or indeed the Battalion Roll of Honour.
If you have any further information to connect Walter to East Wickham and Welling please do get in touch.
This story has been researched by volunteers. We have taken every effort to ensure its accuracy. If you are related to this soldier, or if you have any further information, please do get in touch.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/519474/MARTIN,%20WALTER