Private - Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 14th Battalion - Regt. No. 34813
Geoffrey William James Martin was born in Swanscombe on 8 September 1893 to William Alfred Martin (born 1859 in Swanscombe) and Mary Ann (née Bare, born 1863 also Swanscombe). In the 1901 Census Geoffrey is listed as living at Albert Cottage, Broomfield Road, Swanscombe with his parents and one sister Lilian Mary Elizabeth (born 1885). (In the 1891 Census, there was another sister Agnes Winifred -born 1888 – but no sign of her in later Census returns, she possibly died in infancy). His father worked as an Engineer Fitter.
The first school that Geoffrey attended was Swanscombe School. Swanscombe received its own purpose-built school in 1878 with the opening of Manor Road. The development of the village during the 1880s and 1890s between Church Road and Stanhope Road, plus further developments along Swanscombe Street and Milton Road produced more pupils and as a result an infants’ school was opened at Harmer Road in 1893.
Continuing his education Geoffrey attended The Gravesend County Day School (now Gravesend Grammar School) from 1906. The County Day School had been originally opened in 1893 as a school of science and art, located in Darnley Street close to Gravesend Railway Station. (With the move of Gravesend Grammar School in 1938 to its present site in Milton Road, the original school building is now the Victoria Centre for Adult Education). By the time that Geoffrey attended the County School, the 1902 Education Act had been passed and the school had become a recognised Secondary School. Although still a fee-paying school, there were scholarships available, however it is not known whether Geoffrey was a scholarship pupil. The Headmaster at the time was H F A Wigley, BA, FCS. In the School Admissions Register the family address in 1906 was listed as 164 Milton Road, Swanscombe.
By the time of the 1911 Census the Martin family had moved away from Gravesend to 4 Kent House Lane, Lower Sydenham – Geoffrey at 17 was employed as a Clerk in a Warehouse Office (Furniture Repository).
After the outbreak of World War One, Geoffrey enlisted at Holborn, London on 12 November 1915 as a Private in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 14th Battalion (38th Welsh Division), Regiment No. 34813. He arrived in France after training on 30 May 1916 and spent ten days at the depot in Etaples. On the 30th May he joined his battalion in the Battle of Albert, which lasted for 13 days with losses from the 38th Welsh Division totalling over 4,000.
Geoffrey William James Martin was killed in action on 10 July 1916 during the attack on Mametz Wood along the ‘Catapillar Valley’. He is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial, near Albert, Somme – Pier and Face 4A – and the Swanscombe Memorial.