Maj Charles Martin DSO, Dorsets attd 1st Bn. Hampshire Regiment

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by dbf, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    D-Day: Behind each grave is a story

    Charles Martin was a career soldier who served all over the world before his death in France
    At least 2,700 British soldiers, sailors and airmen lost their lives on the first day of the D-Day landings. They lie buried in cemeteries across Normandy. BBC News picked one at random and pieced together what had happened to the man buried there.

    Ryes Cemetery lies three miles inland from Le Hamel. On 6 June 1944 the area was part of Gold Beach. Among the 594 graves is that of Maj Charles Martin.

    The simple grave marker carved from white Portland stone could not be more appropriate - like him, it came from Dorset.

    It shows that he was 27 and killed on 6 June while serving with the Dorset Regiment. He had also won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
    Charles was the middle one of three children and had a privileged countryside childhood

    Charles was picked to be second-in-command of the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment

    Charles Martin was born in the village of Rampisham on Boxing Day 1916. He was the middle of three children and had a privileged countryside childhood.

    His brother John said: "It was just the absolute perfect life for growing up. We had the same interests - riding and shooting. We were very keen riders. We had a little MG, a Morris Eight, and he drove that and we got up to all sorts of nonsense."

    After Pangbourne College, Charles attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and became an officer in the Dorset Regiment in 1936.

    As a career soldier he spent time on the north-west frontier - now the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    He spent the early part of the war on the island of Malta, while it was under siege by the Germans and Italians.

    The allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 was the turning point in Charles Martin's career. He led a company of the Dorsets in a hazardous night-time landing on a beach. Thirteen days later he stormed a German machine gun position single handed. His efforts won him his DSO.

    John said: "It was widely felt after it was seen what he'd done that he deserved something even more than his DSO. He should have got the VC because it was the sort of thing for which the VC was given."

    The allied invasion of Western Europe was now imminent. By now promoted to Major, Charles Martin would be at the heart of it.

    Christopher Jarry, author of The Story of the Dorset Regiment in War and Peace, said: "He was very experienced by the time we got to D-Day. He'd already led the assault on Sicily and he'd also played a part in the assault landing on the toe of Italy so his experience would have been very rare and of course he'd won a reputation by then for being very swift and brave and effective in action."

    Charles Martin was picked to be second-in-command of the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. The unit, along with Charles' old regiment the Dorsets, would be in the first wave at Gold Beach.

    Nine days before D-Day, Maj Martin wrote one of his last letters home, from a camp in the New Forest: "It is incredibly lovely here today. It is very hard to realise that the world is in just about as bloody a mess as it can possibly be. Very often I feel that existence is quite pointless and then I reflect how really interesting life is and what tremendous hope there is for the future."

    Charles Martin was commanding a battalion on the opening day of the allied liberation of Europe

    The landing, at 07:30 on 6 June, did not go as planned. Bombing failed to clear German defences. Two or three landing craft exploded on the run in. Others beached on sand bars. Some soldiers, having jumped off them, were then crushed as the craft suddenly became lighter and swept over them. There were not enough British tanks on the beach either.

    Withering German machine gun fire and mortar bombs took their toll and the Hampshires began to take heavy casualties. The commanding officer was wounded.

    Charles Martin's biggest moment as a soldier had come. He was commanding a battalion on the opening day of the allied liberation of Europe. But his time in charge was all too brief. Minutes after being given his orders and climbing off a landing craft, Charles was killed by a sniper. It is almost certain he did not make it off the beach. However the Hampshires did take all their objectives - at a cost of 180 casualties.

    For many years on 6 June, John Martin returned to the church in Rampisham where there is a memorial to his brother. "He died that ye might live" says the inscription. Now aged 94, he finds it too difficult to make the journey from his home in Fowey, Cornwall. His brother is never far from his thoughts though.

    "I think about him a tremendous amount because I have a very good photograph of him on my desk and we practically converse. He's there all the time as far as I'm concerned, in my room, in that photograph. I see him every day. I think of him every day. I've certainly missed him… a piece of my life dislodged and taken away."

    John Martin keeps a picture of his brother on his desk so he sees him every day

    Mr Martin believes his brother should have received the Victoria Cross instead of his DSO
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Rank: Major
    Service No: 69156
    Date of Death: 06/06/1944
    Age: 27
    Regiment/Service: Dorsetshire Regiment, attd. 1st Bn. Hampshire Regiment
    Awards: D S O
    Grave Reference: I. B. 5.
    Additional Information: Son of Philip Arthur and Lois Mary Martin, of Charminster, Dorsetshire.
  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Screen shot 2014-06-06 at 12.26.35.png
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Ramiles and dbf like this.
  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    A lovely thread, thanks.
  6. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    The regimental history 'The Royal Hampshire Regiment 1918-1954' (Daniell), page 218 states:

    The battalion history of the 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment 'Three Assault Landings - The Story of the 1st Bn The Dorsetshire Regiment in Sicily, Italy and NW Europe' (Lt-Col Bredin), page 53 states:

    -the "[1st Bn]" was added to the second quote by me.

    Both the 1st Bn Hampshire Regiment and 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, 231st Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, were first wave assault battalions on Gold Beach.


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  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks very much Steve for the additional info.

    Is there anything in the above History about the action in Sicily for which Martin was awarded the DSO? The recommendation is a bit sparse on extra details, not even a location.
  8. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Diane,

    Here is information regarding the action in which Captain Martin earned his DSO; derived from 'Three Assault Landings', pages 24 to 26. Hopefully I have set the scene adequately.

    -Again, all comments in square brackets are mine.


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  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks again.

    His actions seems reminiscent of Lyell's VC.

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