Robert Hugh Martin

Totley War Memorial WW1 1914-1918

Robert Hugh Martin, known as Bob, was born in Walkley on 14 November 1896, the second son of Harry Martin and his wife Jeanetta (nee Biltcliffe). Bob and his siblings attended Burgoyne Road School. Cundy Street Chapel featured significantly in the lives of the Martin family.

Robert Hugh Martin
EnlargeRobert Hugh Martin
Totley Rise Methodist Church
EnlargeTotley Rise Methodist Church
Bob and his brothers Herbert and Victor were keen footballers, playing for Burgoyne Road School football club, Cundy Street football club and, later, Totley football club.

As a very young man Bob worked for Cole Brothers in Sheffield, travelling daily from Dore & Totley station. A 1910 photograph shows him and other employees on an annual outing. Bob was then apprenticed to Hartley & Son, printers, where his elder brother Herbert was also apprenticed, later becoming a master printer and bookbinder. The Hartley and Martin families were old friends. Ironically, in Malta in 1918, as Bob was being taken by stretcher, one of the bearers, a Totley boy, said, "It's a long way from Dore & Totley station, isn't it Bob?". He was a Parker, a relative of Mrs Flo. Hartley nee Parker.

In 1912 Harry and Jeanetta Martin, together with their children Herbert, Bob, Doris, Winifred, Victor and Lilian Wordsworth moved to Glenbourne, on Back Lane, Totley Rise. Jeanetta's aunt, Martha Hawes, nee Wordsworth, lived next door at Glenrose. Totley has strong associations for many of the Martin descendants to the present day.

WW1 saw many changes for many families and nothing would ever be the same for any of them. Herbert joined the Royal Engineers and served in France and Germany.

In 1914 Bob was a fine, strong young man of 17 who looked older than his years. As he was walking to the station one morning a passing woman held up a white feather, a traditional symbol of cowardice, especially at the start of The Great War.

This action so upset him that instead of going to work Bob went to Gell Street to enlist even though he was under age. He joined the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line Regiment, Derbyshire Yeomanry Battalion, Service No. 75965, serving overseas.

United Reformed Church
EnlargeUnited Reformed Church
On 14 November 1917, Bob's 21st birthday, he was shot in Salonika, Greece. The bullet lodged in his heart but did not kill him. He rode his horse back to camp but, as there was no x-ray facility, he had to be taken to the island of Malta which had excellent medical equipment and facilities.

He left Salonika on the hospital ship HMHS Glenart Castle. On arrival in Malta he was taken to St Elmo Hospital, Valletta, where pioneering surgery was performed to remove the bullet. The operation was reported in the Daily Malta Chronicle as being "the talk of the Island". The Glenart Castle was returning to Britain when it was torpedoed by German U-boat UC-56 on 26 February 1918 and it sank near Lundy Island with the loss of 162 lives.

Bob's operation was successful. The bullet was removed but he died of blood poisoning on 14 March 1918. He is buried in Grave Reference C. XVII. 4. in the WW1 Section of Pieta Military Cemetery, Malta.

Robert Hugh Martin, along with his fallen colleagues, is remembered on the Rolls of Honour in Totley Rise Methodist Church and Dore & Totley United Reformed Church.

Totley War Memorial Project Group