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An account of his life and military career with the 3rd Monmouths.


The ancient kingdom of Gwent was for centuries the Borderland in which Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Norman invaders battled with the Celt for superiority of the area. It was the base from which the conquest of Wales was attempted with only partial success. The Norman Lords and their feudal retainers tried to control the Welsh Celts until they themselves were gradually assimilated into the Welsh nation. The kingdom of Gwent became known as Monmouthshire and in recent times the County reverted to its former name again.

It was into a Welsh mining area that Charles Henry George Martin was born, on 5 October 1882, his family lived in the small community of Dowlais, Glamorgan. He was the only son of Mr and Mrs Edward Pritchard Martin, a Mining Engineer and Colliery owner.

Mr E P Martin bought The Hill, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire in 1902, a beautiful country house, overlooking the surrounding mountains and Town, the estate and the gardens so vast that they swept down to the Hereford Road. Charles came to live there with his parents and two of his Five sisters, the other sisters already married and with homes of their own.

Charles was educated at Eton and then went on to Magdalen College, Oxford and gained degrees in Biology. He was very intelligent and academically minded and his career took him to Glasgow University where he was the Demonstrator in Zoology, as well as being a lecturer at Oxford. While living and working in Glasgow he joined the University's O T C and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant (T F ), 12 October 1909.

He was equally well know as an eminent lecturer at Cambridge and in the Colleges of Naples too and as a renowned European scientist and published several books on Protozoology. When the Great War was declared he had been preparing papers for Rothampsted Experimental Station at Harpenden.

Charles's father died in 1911 leaving Mrs Martin at The Hill and on 5 June 1912 Lieutenant Martin was posted to the local area and joined the 3rd Monmouths. On 11 June he and Miss Beatrice Elsie Hanbury were married in St Mary's Church, Abergavenny. She was one of the most eligible ladies of the Borough, the only child of F P J Hanbury JP DL of Nantoer and living with her family on a picturesque estate just outside of the Town. The wedding was a most splendid affair, which was only to be expected when two of the most notable families of the County were united. Charles and his bride joined his family home and the following year on 12 April they were blessed with their only son, Charles Edward Capel Martin. When at home Charles he was family orientated, a home loving man and always a very competent all round sportsman. He was a keen follower of the Monmouthshire Hounds and Master of the Crickhowell Harriers, very much a popular citizen.

As a Lieutenant in the 3rd Mons Regiment he applied himself, with characteristic thoroughness, to his military career; proud to be a soldier in the Monmouthshire Voluntary and Territorial Forces; proud to give of his knowledge after thoroughly studying his favourite weapon, the machine gun; proud to be a Welshman. So it was only to be expected, that as a fighting man of Wales, he would give of his best and prove to be honourable far from his homeland, in the tune of Britain's greatest trial, the 1914 -18 War.

The men of Monmouthshire while retaining their Celtic speech, which differs from that of Northern Cymru, had martial characteristics because of their mixed extraction. They are 'bordermen' and have always been a warring race. History confirms that in all countries it is the borderlands that produce the best fighting men.

Men of Monmouth stand you firm
Though all around you may break
When Welsh forget their mother tongue
And England knows not Drake
Monmouth men will stand on guard ?..
Vigilant ?.. Awake'

(Anon)

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