National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Local Man Never Made it Overseas

Jack Martyn

Jack Martyn

John ‘Jack’ Martyn was born at Tamahere on 11 January 1888 to parents John and Elizabeth Martyn.

Jack was educated at Wanganui Collegiate and returned to the Cambridge area to take up farming. At the outbreak of World War One he went to join up but was placed on the reserve list, finally being called up in 1916.

He had married Elsie Vosper two years prior to being called up and they had a daughter Gwendoline.

Jack was with the 14th Reinforcements and went into camp at Trentham on 7 March 1916 to begin training with the Wellington Infantry Battalion, including route marches over the Rimutakas between Featherston & Trentham Camp.

On 12 May 1916, Jack reported to a sick parade and was admitted to hospital at Featherston with a slight cold. He developed a measles rash on the 10th and was transferred to the Racecourse Hospital. On admission, Jack had an extremely high temperature and received medication over the next ten days and by the 20th, he was up and about.

On 26 May, he again felt poorly and was placed back in bed. His temperature increased over the day and by 10.30 in the morning, Jack was exhibiting signs of cerebro spinal meningitis. He was transferred to the ward attached to the grandstand and by 2.00 pm, Jack was vomiting, became deaf and lost consciousness.

Treatment was given but his condition worsened with low pulse, legs turning purple and spots covering his body. At 12.30 am on 27 May, he passed away. Jack Martyn was 29.

The Waikato Hunt abandoned its meet that day as Jack was very well known and respected in the district.

Jack Martyn’s body was brought by train to Bruntwood and buried at St Stephens Church, Tamahere. Jack is also commemorated on the Cambridge War Memorial.

In the Wanganui Collegiate booklet In Memoriam, 1914-1918 printed in 1919, it states “Whose death occurred under particularly sad circumstances, offered his services to the country in the very early stages of the war …. During his short military career he was much beloved by his fellow men.”