Biography

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John Martin (1821-1870)

This information was sent to me by Brian Martin, who is researching his family history. My thanks to him; copyright, of course, remains with Mr Martin.


John Martin was born in about 1821 in Caulry Nr Athlone, West Meath in Ireland. The modern civil parish of Ballyloughloe is also known as Caulry in the RC Parish Division and is now known as Mount Temple which is 4 miles E of Athlone.

John Martin officially enlisted in the 97th Regiment of Foot (The Earl of Ulster's - also known a the "Celestials" due to the colour of their flashes on their uniforms ) in Portsmouth on 17 November 1835 with the serial number 829. His age was given as 14; he stood four feet seven inches in height. For his enlistment, Martin received a bounty of £2 2s 0p. It is probable that he was recruited in Ireland as recruitment was active there to raise other Regiments of Foot at this time and Athlone was among the Towns visited for this purpose. He remained in Portsmouth until March 1836 and then went first to Woolwich and subsequently to Stockport where he remained until March 1838.

In April 1838 the Regiment moved to Ireland until January 1842. Whilst in Ireland, John Martin was recorded as being at Birr, Dublin, Parsons Town, New Bridge and Cork . He moved with the Regiment in 1842 to Corfu and Zante until they received orders to prepare to move to the West Indies but in the event this order was changed and they moved to Malta in April 1847. They remained there for eighteen months before moving to Nova Scotia in British North America (Canada) in September 1848. The regiment returned to England in May 1853. During this time John was a Private and also a Bandsman.

The Service companies of the Regiment landed in Deal and were then barracked at Walmer. They also spent time on exercises in Chobham Surrey and on guard duties at the Tower of London before moving to Canterbury, and in 1854 to Windsor. In September 1854 the 8 service companies of the Regiment moved to Greece and in November 1854 they were sent to the Crimea. Initially the 97th Regiment was in the trenches at Inkerman and John Martin’s recommendation for DCM was on the 14th January 1855, so this award must have been to do with the Regiment's time at Inkerman. There is not much information at this time but the 97th must have arrived after the main battle and have been put in the trenches maybe to strengthen the existing Regiments.

However, recorded in WO102/14 is a remark for all the men awarded as “Under warrant 4 December 1854 for distinguished conduct in the field” and the date of recommendation 14 January 1855 with notification to the War Office on the 3 April 1855. John Martin's attestation papers record that he was awarded the DCM and gratuity of £5 on the 17 May 1855. The final attack on the Great Redan was carried out by a ladder party of 320 volunteers (160 from 97th and 160 the Buffs) and a storming party of 1000 (200 from 97th). John Martin almost certainly would have been in one of these groups and survived uninjured, being awarded one of the Regiments 16 DCM's during the Crimean War.

The others were: Drummer G Adams, Private C Bird, Corporal S Boon, Corporal W Brazier, Private J Bryant, Sergeant J Burgess, Private R Clarkson, Sergeant Major J Cusack, Private J Eyres, Corporal D Farrell, Corporal R Green, Privates, J Jennett, J Martin, W Rag, J Reilly and J Smith. Two VC's were also awarded - to Brevet Major C H Lumley and Sergeant J Coleman. There was a gratuity paid for a DCM - Private £5, Corporal £10 and Sergeant £15. In Winchester Cathedral there is a memorial window with the Regiment's colours on either side, commemorating those lost in this war: 527 (nearly a battalion), of whom

The Regiment returned via Greece in July 1856 and John was stationed in Portsmouth until January 1857 when the regiment moved to Aldershot. In August 1857 the Regiment was ordered for active service in the East Indies (India) and moved to Portsmouth before sailing to Calcutta, arriving there in November 1857. On 13 May 1858 John was promoted to Corporal.

After service in India, John is shown proceeding to Calcutta and arriving there 1-31 December 1860, and on the 31 December to England. The final muster shows he was discharged from Chatham on the 22 April and was on furlough from 1 to 31 May 1861. The invalid depot musters for Jan -June 1861 shows John listed with other soldiers of the 97th Regiment as victualled on board HMS Renown 31 December 1861 - 14 April 1861. John on discharge did not sign his name and like many of this time this was not unusual. He was recorded as being five feet five inches in height with a ruddy complexion grey eyes and dark brown hair and as having a scar on his right hand. His pension number was 355309. He was paid a pension of 1s 2.1/2d.

John Martin was married to - or at least cohabited with - Ellen McCave: the place and date of their marriage has not been found. Ellen was still single in 1871 and died in 1880. There was a son, William, born to them in 1863. John Martin died of hepatitis in St Mary's Hospital Paddington London on 11 April 1870 with a given age of 47.One Alfred Smith was present but no family member seems to have been there.

During the course of his military career, John Martin was awarded 5 GC badges, DCM (14 January 1855), the Crimean War Medal clasp Sebastopol 1854 and the Indian Mutiny Medal. Martin's DCM and Crimean War medals were sold at Sotherbys (Lot 319) on 11 May 1999. The purchaser has not been found, and there was no mention was made of his Indian Mutiny Medal.


October 2009: Mr Martin sent me this email:

Last week after missing his medals at auction they appeared on a medal retail site, I have bought his DCM and Crimean War medal so a nice addition to my FH albiet an expensive one. His Indian mutiny medal was not there so have to keep looking for that!


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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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