Martin, Lieutenant Charles Henry

No 4 Sqn AFC

Charles Martin came from Port Melbourne. He was born on 1 April 1894 and was a Building Foreman when he joined the AIF in Ballarat on 7 February 1916; he was already serving as a Lieutenant in the AMF’s 52nd Infantry Battalion. He was posted to a number of training units in Australia, and was promoted to Sergeant Major, before he left Melbourne on HMAT A32 Themistocles on 27 July. After arrival in the UK he served in the 2nd Infantry Training Battalion before he transferred to the AFC in March before beginning pilot training on 1 June, after which he
was commissioned in October. He was posted to No 4 Sqn in France on 12 January 1918, and promoted to Lieutenant at the end of the month.

He was killed in action over Lille at 14.15 on 17 February 1918 while flying Sopwith Camel B5207. Other pilots on his patrol reported that as they began to attack some enemy aircraft at about 3000 feet, his Camel disappeared in a cloud of smoke, after which the wings detached. The Camel had apparently been hit by an artillery shell and broke up in the air. He was initially posted as Missing in Action, but in August formal advice came from Germany which confirmed that he had been killed. In the interim, Ltn Waldemar Karstens, a German infantry officer who witnessed the crash of the Camel, wrote to Lt Martin’s family on 18 February to let them know that their son’s body had been recovered and properly buried. The location of his grave at Prèmesques could not be found after the Armistice.

It was not common for aeroplanes to be struck by artillery shells, but on the same day that Lt Martin’s Camel was hit, another AFC machine suffered the same fate when RE 8 C5043, flown by Lts H Streeter and F J Tarrant of No 3 Sqn, was hit and destroyed over Messines Ridge.

Lt C H Martin has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and the Villers-
Bretonneux Memorial, France.

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