|BACK THE ROYAL GAZETE, WEDS., 11 MARCH, 1998.
Bernard Leroy Martin
1924 - 1997
| Bernard (Bernie) Martin's family, freinds and comrades in The Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps remember his happ-go-lucky personality. Even during his long crippling illness, when a series of strokes left him paralysed, he remained cheerful and enjoyed seeing and chatting with freinds.
He attended Miss Galway's School in Pembroke. Many a successful Bermudian received his education from this remarkable teacher.
Bernie worked at several occupations during his lifetime. On leaving school, he assisted his father on the family farm. Following military service in two major wars, he worked as a mason, and he had his own horse-and-carriage business.
He joined the Bermuda Electric Light Company in 1963 as an engine operator in the generator department, but had to take early retirement in 1984 due to poor health. A few years later he moved to Florida.
He was a member of the Queen's Club, his favourite sports being golf and fishing.
At the age of 18, Bernie enlisted in the BVRC, and served until the end of World War II.
In 1948, along with fellow Bermudians Robert Wheatley and Vernon Smith, Bernie signed on as a regular soldier with the Gloucestershire Regiment. He was posted to the main body of the 1st Battalion in Jamaica. Two years later, having completed their tour abroad, the Regiment returned to England.
On 2nd October, 1950 the Glosters (the abbreviation they use) embarked for the Korean War. Some of the heaviest fighting of the Campaign lay ahead for them. The immortal valour of the 1st Battalion at the famous Imjin River Battle is enshrined in the 300-year history of the Regiment.
The Allies had advanced into North Korea, and this quickly brought the Chinese into the War. The British 29th Brigade, which included the Glosters, had to fall back to the 38th Parallel, where they dug in opposite a massive concentration of 60,000 Chinese.
Leading the Brigade counter-attack, the Glosters assisted in capturing important Hill 327. However, they then found themselves completely surrounded on nearby Hill 235. For three legendary days - April 23, 24 and 25, 1951 - the Glosters, without food and water, repelled everything the enemy could hurl at them.
Colonel J.P. Carne eventually had to acknowledge the hopelessness of their position. By this time the Battalion was decimated.
When it became obvious the only alternative was to be captured, he issued an order permitting any who wanted to do so to break out of the perimeter and make a run to rejoin the Allied Forces. Some 200, including the Bermudians, made the attempt. Wheately and Smith were captured. Miraculously, Bernie got through, surviving the withering fire that swept the escape route. Though the Glosters had payed a fearful price, they had bought the time the Allies needed.
For their rugged heroic defiance, the glosters received a number of honours, including a citation from president Harry Truman of the United States.
While stationed in Jamaica, Bernie had met and fallen in love with Annie Ziadie. They were married in 1953, and have a daughter, Joanne, who lives with her husband, Frank Butkiewiez, and their three children, Stephen, Michael and Amy, in Maspeth, New York. Annie, a nurse, still lives in Florida.
In 1995, Bernie fulfilled a cherished wish to visit his homeland again. It was timed to coincide with the annual reunion in May of the BVRC Overseas Association. By now, permanently confined to a wheelchair, Bernie and Annie withstood the long difficult flight from Florida, by any measure for them, an epic journey. He received a rousing welcome from his old BVRC comrades.
But he was destined to return to Bermuda once more. It was his final request. On a sunny afternoon in October, 1997, Bernard Leroy Martin joined his parents in the family grave at St. John's Church in Pembroke, as the Bermuda Regiment bugler hauntingly played the Last Post.
Contributed by T.C. Aitchison