Spr Alfred James Leslie Martin, 6th Fd Coy

Sapper Martin's headstone at Beny-Sur-Mer Cemetery.
Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery – The Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, located at Reviers, about 4 kilometres from Juno Beach in Normandy, France. (J. Stephens)

Alfred James Leslie Martin (sometimes known as “Les”) was born on 7 August 1908 in Plymouth, England. He emigrated to Vancouver, BC with his parents Alfred William Martin and Lillian May Martin. The oldest of five children, Alfred was the only boy.

Alfred went to school at Norquay Public School until Grade VIII. At the age of fourteen he gained employment with a candy-maker that lasted for four years. He then began working for Thompson & Clarke, a plywood manufacturer, as Head Tally Man. He worked there for five years before enlisting in the Army.

On 10 July 1937 Alfred Martin, age 28, married Madge Gleig of Chilliwack, BC. They were married at Madge’s brother’s house in Sardis. Alfred and Madge had two children. Brian Leslie Martin was born on 10 October 1938 and Jean Elaine Martin was born on 15 November 1941 – two years before Alfred died during the war.

Alfred enlisted in the Army in 1940 at age 32 years at a basic training camp in Vancouver. During the enrolment process he stated that he was unsure about what he would do when he returned; however, he was considering mixed farming or carpentry work. On 31 July 1941 he was posted to the 11th District Depot in Vancouver, BC. In November he was assigned to the Royal Canadian Engineers and started training at A6 Canadian Engineer Training Centre in Chilliwack, BC. He became a Sapper at the end of November 1941.

After his training at Chilliwack Martin embarked for the United Kingdom where he was employed as a carpenter’s helper with No.1 Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Unit from April 1942 until May 1943. He was then transferred to the 6th Field Company where the emphasis at the time in England was on Assault Training with its focus further sharpening in the first few months of 1944 to the preparations for the D-Day landing and assault.

Sapper Martin embarked for France on 3 June 1944 as a member of L/Cpl Earl Teskey’s sub-section that supported No 10 Platoon of The Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the first wave of the assault. His mission was to clear and remove obstacles on the beach. His landing craft was hit by heavy machine gun fire upon landing and Martin was killed. He was 35 years old. Martin was temporarily buried at Gray-sur-Mer, France but his final resting place is the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian Military Cemetery in France.

..... Based on research conducted by a student at Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada with additional material from the 6 Field Engineer Squadron Museum.

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