Roll of Honour
Private Basil Thomas Martin
Service Number: 9837
Regiment: Yorkshire Regiment (2nd)
Conflict: World War One
Date of Death: 1st November 1914
Age at Death: 20
Burial/Memorial Location: Ypres Town Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Son of William James & Emily Martin, of 20 Avenue Road, Swindon, Wilts. Born in Bicester. Formerly of The Star.
"The war, with its terrible carnage, has claimed one more of our valiant Bicester men. This is Pte. Basil Martin, who fell in action at the battle of Ypres. The following has been communicated to his parents: “ It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the Officer in command of the Infantry records, notifying the death of Private Basil Thomas Martin (9837), 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, which occurred at Ypres on the 1st of November, 1914, and I am to express the sympathy and regret of the Army Council at your loss. The cause of death was effects of wounds received in action. He is buried in the cemetery at Ypres.” – E. Ottley, Lieutenant-Colonel.
Lord Kitchener, on the behalf of the King and Queen, sends their sympathy to the parents.
Pte. Martin was well known in Bicester, and his many friends will learn with regret this melancholy news. He was only 20 years old, and was a son of Mr William Martin, late of the “Star,” Bicester, and now of “The Shrubberies,” Alvechurch, near Birmingham. His father is at present ill.
Pte. Martin was a grandson of the late Mrs Thomas Coles, of 12, Church-street, Bicester. From an early age the fallen soldier was eager to enter the service of his King and country, and he has truly proved his devotion. His enlistment took place entirely unknown to his parents. His family is truly patriotic, for he has three brothers with the colours. Two are in training in Lord Kitchener’s Army. And the other is at the front with the Army Veterinary Corps.
The deceased’s brother, Algernon, was the one to receive the 2s. 6d. offered by Lord Kitchener to the recruit who made up the first thousand of Kitchener’s Army." Bicester Herald 08/01/1915
"We are able this week to publish a letter from Sergt, J.H. Giblin, received by Mrs Martin in connection with her son, Pte. Basil Martin, of the 2nd Batt. Yorkshire Regiment, who succumbed to wounds received in action at Ypres on Nov. 1st 1914. The parents of Pte. Martin were formerly the tenants of the “Star,” Bicester, and he was well-known in the town. He was 20 years old when he died.
Describing the fight in which Pte. Martin fell, Sergt. Giblin says: “Our regiment was driving the enemy from a strong entrenched position. We commenced this attack on the 29th, and the good old corps advanced like one brave man – a sight which I shall never forget. Every man was eager to fulfil his duty, and to gain honour for his King and Country. We were fighting an army ten times our numbers, but the brave British did not care for that, and we set out with a strong line, which, however, was soon mown down and reduced to a thin line. Regiment after regiment was falling, and it was almost like a slaughter-house.
I was ordered to collect what men I could and try to drive a party of Germans from a trench. I had 80 men (all the officers had fallen), and I had gone fifty yards before I lost 60 of the men. The enemy opened a most murderous fire upon us from a flank. Their artillery shelled us just like hail stones, and also with machine-gun fire, still the boys (that is, what were left) went on to complete their task, and succeeded in driving the Germans from their position, but with great loss.
The enemy has lost a terrible lot, and we were walking over their dead for about 500 yards. It was here I was wounded. While looking after the boys I was hit on the right hip with shrapnel, and had the first and second fingers of the left hand blown away from the centre joints.
I knew your son very well, and he was always a good and respectable soldier. He was well-liked by the officers, N.C.O.’s and men, and was on his way to a higher rank. I could give you more details of the War, but the hardships and several other things are too bad to describe. I hope this war will be over soon; many a poor mother’s heart is broken, and many a woman has lost her husband.”
In another letter Sergt. Giblin says: “Your boy had a good death. All those who were wounded were attended by the priests, and those who were able to speak all made a good confession. I was at my duties twice in three weeks, and other poor sinners were continually saying their prayers in the trenches. It would make a man pray who had never prayed in his life before. Thank God all the Roman Catholics who have died all died happy deaths. There were priests who could speak English.
Now, Mrs Martin, you must try and cheer up; I know it is hard. I have almost fifty letters to answer to mothers and wives, and I don’t know how to break the news to some of them. They are mostly young married women. One has three babies – one not three years old, another two years, and a third born while her husband was away, poor creature! He is dead, and what can I say? They are all similar cases. Cheer up!”
Mrs Martin has also received a letter stating that her son was buried in a field just beyond the public cemetery at Ypres, due east of it. The message goes on: “You may like to know that the grave is being cared for, and has been marked, so that later on, when the War is over, proper measures may be taken to preserve the memory of those who have fallen for their Country.”" Bicester Herald 04/06/1915