Just like thousands of other Australians I lost a relative at Fromelles a hundred years ago today. Private Joseph Leslie (Roy) Martin Number 1584, 30th battalion AIF, an ex cadet, single labourer from Grenfell NSW, an uncle who would never be – disappeared that day aged just 20 – and has never been found since. He survived a bare month at the Front. One of 5,500 Australian casualties in a single afternoon! Australia’s very worst day. What a tragedy! May we never repeat such awful destruction or ever forget their heroism and sacrifice for us, our values – and our way of life.
PS: You should not think our military simply ‘forgot’ missing soldiers. On the day after Fromelles ‘Roy’ was listed as missing. An inquiry was arranged. Notices obviously went out to anyone who could shed light on his fate. Someone even thought they might have seen this slight 126lb, 5’51/2”good-looking, brown eyed, brown haired youth after the battle; this proved illusory. The other man was almost certainly Roy’s older brother John Francis (Frank) Martin who survived the war (though twice seriously wounded). The Inquiry found on 10th December 1916 that he must have been killed in action at Fromelles. No doubt near ‘Pheasant Wood’ – a pleasant sounding place to die! A medal was sent to his mother. Apparently he was a ‘good rifle shot’ but this availed him little.