Private John Martin
John Martin was born June 3rd, 1924 in St. John New Brunswick. His parents Alfred and Rosina Martin had 12 children, two of who tragically died during their childhood. Of the 10 children remaining, John was Sixth in the birth order. The Martin family moved to Burnaby, British Columbia when John was 10 years old. John continued his education there and completed grade 9 before he decided to join the workforce.
World War two was in full momentum when John decided to enlist in the army. John however wasn’t the only member of his family to serve in the military, four of his brothers Edward, George, Alfred Jr. and Stanley also enlisted in the army. These patriotic boys came by it honestly because their father, Alfred had previously served in the Royal Navy, the British army, the U.S. Army and then back to his old regiment in the British army to fight in France during the First World War.
It wasn’t long before John heard about the Paratroops recruiting only the best of the best. John was eager to join so he requested a transfer. John successfully completed all the aptitude, psychological and physical testing and deemed fit for training. John graduated from the Parachute School in Shilo, Manitoba on May 22, 1944, and was now a proud Paratrooper.
John joined the Battalion in England where he began training with the 6th Airborne Division. He was part of A Company, 3 Platoon when he departed overseas by ship to Ostend Belgium. From here, he was trucked to the Ardennes to participate in what was known as the Battle of the Bulge. From there, he went with the Battalion to the south of Holland, then to Ostend taking a ship back to the UK. The was finally over for John and he returned to civilian life and headed back to Canada.
Shortly after the war, a young lady named Eugenie Drayton caught the eye of John and they married a short time later. The union produced three lovely children, Lori, Jeffrey and Leslie. John never spoke much about the war. One rare moment John shared a story about parachuting and landing in a pigpen while training with the 6th Airborne Division.
John was known for his good sense of humour. He was a Skipper of his own charter boat the 'Redcoat'. He was also very handy, he worked as a Carpenter, Painter, and Electrician. He was considered a master of everything he set his mind to. John also had an artistic side and would spend his leisure time oil painting a variety of artwork. He was also a gifted craftsman, who had a passion for woodworking and created many wonderful projects. To John, a pile of old wood could and would become anything that he envisioned. He also enjoyed being outdoors and would spend much time during the summer months gardening.
John was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion and 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association. He proudly participated in many Remembrance Day parades. John was living in Nanaimo, British Columbia when on November 22, 2001, he lost his battle with cancer. John is resting at Cedar Valley Memorial in the Field of Honour. If you have read this biography, then you have kept the memory of John Martin alive.
Special thanks to Lori Bennett for the information and artifacts.
M36 Mills Bomb
Private Martin would have trained and carried hand grenades during his time overseas. Below is an M36 Mills Bomb used during World War 2. These were standard issue to the ground troops, including the Paratroops. You can read more about the M36 Mills Bomb in the equipment section of this website.