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John Sankey Martin was born in Preston in 1893 to Thomas and Bella Martin (nee Sankey). Bella already had a daughter Alice who was born in 1890 when she married Thomas Martin in St. Matthews Church in Preston on the 24th September 1892. The couple went on to have at least eleven children together; John (1893)*, Mary Rosamund (1895-1897), Hannah (1897), Florence (1899-1899), Thomas (1900), William Edward (1902), Lily (1905), Margaret Ellen (1907), Florence Ada (1909), Stanley (1911) and Harold (1912).

Just before their son Thomas was born in 1900 Thomas and Bella moved the family to live at 132 Victoria Road in Walton le Dale where Thomas worked as a spinner in the mill and Bella had a job as a weaver. By the time their daughter Margaret Ellen arrived in 1907 the family had moved back into Preston and had gone to live at number 32 Rigby Street South. On the 16th February 1909 aged 17 years and 10 months old John attested into the Territorial Force and joined the 2nd West Lancashire Brigade R.F.A. At his medical inspection he was recorded as standing at five feet three and a quarter inches tall and his chest was measured at 35 inches. He had good vision and his physical condition was said to be “well made”. John was still living at 32 Rigby Street South with his parents and was working at William Calvert`s Mill as a spinner. He attended his annual camps until he became time expired on the 16th February 1913 then four months later on the 14th June 1913 he married Margaret Ellen Wilkinson at St. Matthew`s Church in Preston.

After the outbreak of war John enlisted to serve for three years with the colours on the 7th September 1914. He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the number 14989. He was 21 years and 6 months old and was now five feet four and a half inches tall. John had a light complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. After enlistment he was posted to the Army reserve then two weeks later he was posted to the 9th Battalion as a Private. A month later he was promoted to Lance Corporal (paid) and by the 11th May 1915 he had been promoted to Corporal.

John and Margaret Ellen had a daughter Irene who was born on the 10th September 1915 and their family home at the time was 45 Fishwick Parade in Preston. Just two weeks after the birth of his daughter John embarked for France with the 9th Battalion as a member of “C” Company. The strength of the 9th Battalion on arrival in France was twenty seven Officers and 889 non-commissioned Officers and men coming under the command of the 74th Brigade in the 25th Division.

The units composing the 25th Division were soon pushed up to a more forward area and by the 29th September they had arrived in billets in Armentieres. It was here that the transport and advanced party re-joined them. All the ranks were then attached in batches to various battalions of the 150th Brigade for instruction in trench duties. However, this instruction only lasted for a week and then on the 6th October the Battalion marched to Le Bizet, where it was held in reserve to the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers and the 13th Cheshire Regiment who at the time were holding the front line trenches.

The 9th Battalion remained in reserve until they were moved up to the front line on the 12th October, remaining in occupation until the 20th. It was during this time that they incurred their first casualties of the war when four men were killed or died of wounds and five were wounded. Sadly, John was one of these early casualties.

He was a member of a bombing party and it was while they were preparing for an assault on the 18th October that he was shot and severely wounded in the abdomen. He was removed by a field ambulance and transferred to number 2 casualty clearing station where sadly he succumbed to his wounds two days later on the 20th October.

His papers note that after his death John was buried in a civil cemetery in Bailleul.

The Preston Guardian later published the following information;js-martin

(Note: his papers confirm that he was wounded on the 18th October and that he died on the 20th October. The CWGC also confirm his date of death as being the 20th October).

His widow Margaret Ellen later received quite a large number of her husband`s personal effects which included; 1 cigarette case and 9 cigarettes, 1 leather purse, 1 match box, 1 ID Disc, 1 pair of scissors, 1 9ct gold ring, 1 leather wallet, 19 photos, 1 scoring book, 1 lighter, 1 knife and 1 cloth bag.

Two years after the death of her husband Margaret Ellen remarried to a chap named George Best who was also a soldier in the Loyal North Lancs Regiment. They married in St. Matthew`s Church in Preston on the 3rd November 1917.

In the September quarter of 1918 a daughter Edith was born to Margaret Ellen and George Best but sadly Margaret Ellen died in the same quarter that her daughter was born. After her death Margaret Ellen`s mother Martha Wilkinson became the official guardian of her daughters first child Irene Martin and in John Sankey Martin`s papers it specifically notes that any medals due to him were to be held in trust for Irene until such time that she was able to appreciate their significance.

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 14989
Date of Death: 20/10/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9th Bn.
Cemetery: BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, NORD

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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