Martin, John (Jack)

Rifleman Jack Martin receiving the French Legion of Honour in 2014.

Rifleman Jack Martin was a 20-year-old Rifleman (private) on D-Day.

He was from Toronto, and his father and 4 brothers had all served in the QOR.

Martin was with the mortars who landed with C Company in the second wave at 0830 hours.

Transcript of Interview conducted in 1998 as part of a school project

What were the days like leading up to the landing on D-Day?

We were confined to barracks – that was C.B. – waterproofing the Bren Gun Carriers. We had scissors and were cutting each others’ hair. I got a beaver cut.

What was it like and what were your feelings when you were coming in on the landing craft?

I was on a Landing Craft Tank with the Bren Gun Carriers. I was lying on the gunwale looking onto the water for mines. This was all new to me . . . I was just a kid of 20!

How did everyone else feel?

I never gave any notice to anybody else. I was just looking after this guy [meaning himself].

What happened when the ramp dropped when you landed? What were your feelings at this time?

When the ramp went down, we landed on dry sand and we ran right off. There was a captain giving us directions and he had blood streaming down his face. That scared me more than anything else. We were ordered to run right up to the wall for protection. I ran like hell. One of the other landing craft had flipped in the water. I couldn’t see what happened to the men because we were told we couldn’t stop on the beach. I thought it was a great accomplishment that we had gotten that far.

What was the atmosphere like during the battle?

It was hectic! This was our first time in battle. It means something if it’s permanent when they hit you.

What did you do when you got close to the enemy? Did you feel a sense of relief or accomplishment when you got near?

We were the mortars, so we didn’t get too near the enemy. We had to support the infantry. We were near the self-propelled guns which were firing at a German 88 [88mm gun]. An SP was hit, and it was loaded with ammo, so it blew sky-high. It was the worst explosion I ever heard, and I served from D-Day through to VE Day. The gun from the SP came whizzing through the air at me and right over our heads. It sounded like a freight train.

What was your first reaction when you looked back on what you had just done, after the battle?

I was tired. I got into my slit trench and went to sleep. We were in a barnyard, and during the night a German staff car pulled into the barnyard. The men in it went to sleep. In the morning, some of our soldiers woke the Germans – there were 2 officers and an NCO – and they were really surprised when we woke them up!

What are your feelings at the present day?

It was something to have lived through. I’m one of the few left. We were all volunteers, you know. I have no regrets. I had lots of great friends.

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"In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared"

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