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Martin Abel John

Abel John Martin was born on 13th June 1892 in St. Anne, Madwaska, New Brunswick.

I have had difficulty finding any trace of birth registration for Abel Martin and as a result cannot confirm the names of his parents or siblings.

The 1911 census for Canada on Ancestry.co.uk shows Abel Martin living with the Dube family in St. Anne Madwaska and under “Relation to Head of household” he is a Protege. (meaning of Protege, (“to Protect”) a person who receives special protection and promotion from someone  more established in a field.)

Head of the household was Denis Dube a Cultivator (Farmer) by trade, age 63 born 15th April 1837 in New Brunswick. His wife Adeline Sirios, age 62 born 2nd February 1840 in Van Buren, Aroostook, Maine, U.S.A. and their children, Angele age 27 born 1873, Guillaume age 17 born 1883, Benoni age 18 born 1882 and Abel Martin age 9 born 13th June 1891. (there is a discrepancy in the birth year.)

Library of Canada, Attestation Papers for Private, 666250 Abel John Martin.

Abel enlisted into the 165th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 1st March 1916 at Moncton, New Brunswick.

Brief History of Moncton

 The area now known as Moncton was once an early Acadian settlement known as “Le Coude.” After the deportation of the Acadians, the settlement lay empty until a group of eight immigrant families arrived from Pennsylvania in June 1766 with a land grant issued by the Philadelphia Land Company.
A township grew on the site named after the British soldier Lt.-Colonel Robert Monckton, who led the capture of nearby Fort Beauséjour in 1755.
The new settlement quickly flourished as a centre for ship-building and was incorporated as a town in 1855. However, the birth of the age of steam and iron ships brought a quick end to local prosperity and Moncton surrendered its charter in 1862.
A new era of prosperity came to the settlement with the location of the headquarters for the Intercolonial Railway in 1871, forerunner of CNR. In 1875 Moncton was again incorporated with the motto “Resurgo” (I rise again).
Moncton became a city on the 23rd of April, 1890. Its coat of arms illustrates the agricultural, industrial and railway heritages, along with the world-famous Tidal Bore, an ever popular tourist attraction.

Abel’s Attestation Papers show that he gave his next of kin as Mrs Helen Straut, Martin of Presque Isle, which is in Maine U.S.A. I tried to trace Abel’s sister but was unsuccessful.

There is also the address of next of kin on the Commonwealth War Graves Certificate of “Cause of Death” and this is Catherine Gibson, Cass Lake, Caws County, Minnesota, U.S.A. I also tried to trace this person but could not make a link with New Brunswick.

After basic training in Canada, Abel embarked for England from Halifax on 25th March 1917 on board the S.S. Metagama and arrived on 7th April 1917 when he was posted to Shoreham Army Camp for further training. Abel was promoted to Acting Sergeant on 9th May 1917, reverted to Private rank on transfer to Sunningdale Army Camp and promoted to Acting Corporal with pay on 10th May 1917. Abel was deployed with the 39th Battalion of the Canadian Forestry Corps to France on 25th May 1917 and remained there until 22nd December 1918 when he was again posted to Sunningdale Army Camp.

As hostilities had ceased, Abel was transferred to Kinmel Army Camp for discharge and repatriation to Canada.

Kinmel Park Camp was a segregation camp used to house Canadian Soldiers awaiting repatriation to Canada after the end of WW1. Unfortunately the conditions at that time were extremely harsh with a lack of every kind of commodity, the camp was overcrowded and the services were poor, there were shortages of clothing, food and blankets. As a result of this situation, a vast number of servicemen and women became ill and many succumbed to the Influenza Epidemic or complications associated with this infection. Tragically, Abel contracted Bronchial Pneumonia, and was admitted to the Canadian General Hospital where he died on 28th February 1919 at 27 years of age.

Canadian Forestry Corps, from Sault History online website

The Canadian Forestry Corps was formed following an appeal from Britain on February 14, 1916 for troops to undertake lumbering operations overseas. The Canadian Forestry Corps assumed various tasks, including clearing land for airfields, preparing railway ties and lumber for use in trenches, building barracks and hospitals as well as farming. During the critical days of 1918, the Corps also supplied 1,280 men to the infantry.

The Canadian Forestry Corps operated in both Britain and France. In France, The Corps often worked under fire from both artillery and the air. In some cases, they had to abandon their mills when the German army overran their operations during an advance. France awarded the Croix de Guerre to members who had experienced heavy artillery fire.

In Britain there were more than seventy forestry operations that were fully funded by the Canadian Government. The Canadian Forestry Corps produced 70% of allied lumber used during World War I. The Base Depot for the Canadian Forestry Corps was located on Smith’s Field in the Windsor Great Park. Windsor Great Park is the estate that surrounds Windsor Castle, and is famous for its 8,000 acres of forest which includes plantations of ancient oaks forest planted by Queen Elizabeth I. The Canadians were amazed at the size of the trees found on the estate. One tree cut down by the Canadians was the William the Conqueror Oak that stood beneath the King’s window. The tree had a circumference of over 38 feet and, since no saw was long enough to cut through the tree, the Canadians cut a hole into the hollow trunk which enabled a man to pull the saw from inside.

 He is  buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan, North Wales.

Abel John Martin is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Bodelwyddan Memorial

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