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The Fallen of Kirkby

Thomas Martin

Lidget, Soutergate, around 1900
Lidget, Soutergate, around 1900
  • Grandson of Thomas and Agnes Martin of Lidget, Soutergate.
  • Private, 200674, 1st/4th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. (Territorial Service number 2865)
  • Killed in Action at Guillemont, near Albert, 8th August 1916 (The Battle of the Somme), aged 27.
  • Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France, Pier and Face 5D, 12B.
The Thiepval Memorial
The Thiepval Memorial
The white panels of the Thiepval Memorial
The white panels of the Thiepval Memorial

Thomas Martin’s name is one of more than 72,000 names of ‘missing’ British soldiers from the Battle of the Somme inscribed on the white panels of the Thiepval Memorial.

Thomas Martin was brought up by his grandparents at Lidget (sometimes ‘Ledgate’ or ‘Ledegate’), Soutergate. Thomas senior had been an iron ore miner but had retired by 1911, when he and his wife Agnes were living at Lidget with their unmarried daughter Agnes Ann, then 41 and described as a ‘charwoman’. Then in their early 70s, Thomas and Agnes had had eight children during their 49 year marriage, three of whom had died. Their grandson, Thomas, had been born in 1889, but by 1911 was apparently working as a general labourer in Dalton while lodging with Henry and Mary Martin at 16 Goose Green. Grandfather Thomas had died by the time of Thomas Martin’s death on the Somme in August 1916.

Thomas Martin enlisted in the Territorial Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in Ulverston, probably between 11th and 13th November 1914. Throughout the winter of 1914-15 the 1st/4th were training in the south of England, and by March 1915 they were in France for the Battle of Festubert, in which Kirkby men Mark Grigg and William Sykes were killed.

On 8th August the 1st/4th Battalion were on the Somme, taking part in the attack on Guillemont near Albert as part of the 164th (North Lancashire) Brigade in the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. At 0345, while the allied artillery shelled the German lines, two platoons of A,B,C, and D companies left the advanced trench and crept into No Man’s Land. Soon afterwards a second line left the trench, and at 0415 the enemy began a return bombardment, followed by heavy machine gun and rifle fire. It was soon evident that the allied artillery had failed to cut the barbed wire, and the battalion was forced to retire and dig in. The situation, along with very poor communications between the attacking forces, meant that by 12 noon the attack had to be abandoned. The next night was spent clearing the battlefield of wounded and strengthening defences in case of a counter attack by the enemy. At 0355 on the 9th August the 1st/4th were relieved by the 10th Liverpool Scottish and withdrew to the south-west of Carnoy.

The Battalion had lost 8 officers killed, including its Commanding Officer, and 9 others wounded, and 48 other ranks killed and 206 wounded or ‘missing’. Among the latter was Thomas Martin of Soutergate. (Soldiers were not usually declared ‘dead’ until they had been missing for about a year.)

Thomas Martin was included, with Richard Townson, John Shepherd and Isaac Knight, in the memorial service held in St Cuthbert’s on Tuesday 5th August 1918.

The Sunken Road at Guillemont
The Sunken Road at Guillemont
Guillemont village soon after the action in which Thomas Martin died
Guillemont village soon after the action in which Thomas Martin died
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