Class of 1908

Martin excelled at Christian Brothers’ in the early part of the last century. His life contains one of the more memorable personal stories of the Great War. An outstanding cricketer: he once took 14/32 while at school. He also still holds the Athletics record for throwing a cricket ball 112yds. On leaving school, he became an accountant at Mily Mily Station near the Murchison River, until the war interrupted his life. His enlistment number was 688, and he joined a month before his 24th birthday.

He landed at Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd February 1915. Two months later, he embarked for Gallipoli on April 12th 1915. Whilst fighting at “Bloody Angle”, he and others from his Battalion were bombed. Knocked senseless by a bomb, he awoke to find his mates Privates White and Gray lying dead beside him. All others he had arrived with were dead or wounded. He crawled away after dark but was captured by a German. This man changed his life when he discovered a Catholic medal from St Stanislaus amongst the dog tags around his neck. He too was a Catholic and the two men communicated in the German’s broken English and spoke about the futility of war. Reportedly, his captor was relieved when it was decided that Martin should be spared. The following three years were terrible hardship and his weight nearly halved during his internment as a Prisoner of War in Turkey. It was reported after the event: “Of those Australians who fought in this action, he was the only one who survived it in the hands of the Turks”.

He was reported missing on 1st May, as no one knew he had survived never mind been taken to the Kaba Tepe Region of Turkey. As a prisoner, Martin worked on the Bagdad Railway Construction Company’s railway and tunnel through the Taurus Mountains. At the end of the war, he was repatriated to England and disembarked at Dover on 8th December 1918. He was clearly well treated and recovered as he marched out from the Australian HQ London to Weymouth nearly a year later and was returned to Fremantle on 2nd April the following year.

Martin went on to live a long and happy life on his return to Australia. He married and had three children: Frank, Joan and Maureen. Joan is the mother of Test cricketer Terry Alderman. Martin’s career as an umpire at the WACA was in sharp contrast with that of his early life, as no doubt his grandson Terry Alderman would testify.