William Henry Martin

Date of birth:                   1866
PoppiesPlace of birth:                 Brixham, Devon
Rank:                                  Lieutenant
Regiment / Division:   Royal Navy Reserve
Battalion/Vessel:          H.M. Yacht “Aries”
Died:                                   31st October 1915 aged 50 years
Death Location:             At Sea


Life before the War

William’s parents were Stephen and Sophia. Stephen was born in 1842 Totnes, Devon, whilst Sophia was born in Bristol in 1845.

William  9 brothers Frank Albert Pitt b.1864,George L b.1870,John b.1873, Frederick Stephen b.1876,Arthur Henry H b.1879,Charles Edward b.1882,Ernest James b.1884,Richard Simon M b.1889 and Walter Hurford b.1867 d.24th October 1951 who left £1539 4s 11d to his wife.

He also had 2 sisters Alice Maud b.1878, married James Collings Pitman 1901, d.1919 and Lucy b.1872

In the 1871 census, the family lived in Brixham, Devon, where Stephen was a Tin Plate Worker.

In the  1881 and 1891 census returns the family were living  at 10, Burton House. In 1881, Stephen was a Plumber and William was working as a Gardener. Most of the family were employed in 1891. Stephen was a Plumber and Gas Fitter, William a Mariner, George a Shoemaker, Lucy had her own account as a Laundress, John was an Apprentice and Frederick a Gardener Assistant.


In 1901 census William was married  but his wife Selina, was living by herself  at 5, Clifton Terrace, Brixham.William was not at home on the night the census was taken,  he was probably at sea.

In 1911, they were living at 131, Clifford Street, Southampton. William was a Master Mariner. on the census return tit was noted they had one child who had died. They also confirmed they had been married for 19 years, although no documentation of  marriage has been found in the indexes.


National Probate Calendar

“Martin William Henry of Aberfoyle Hillside Avenue Bitterne Park Southampton died 31 October 1915 at sea. Administration London 27 January 1916 to Selina Martin widow. Effects £922 10s”

War Service

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

William is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Memorial, Southsea Common, Hampshire. The memorial reads:

“Martin, Lieut. William Henry. R.N.R. H.M. Yacht “Aries”. Killed by mine explosion off South Foreland 31st Oct., 1915. Age 50.

Son of Stephen and Sophia Martin, of Higher Brixham, Devon; husband of Selina Martin, of “Aberfoyle”, 97, Hillside Avenue,
Bitterne Park, Southampton”


Historical Information – H.M. Yacht “Aries”

H.M.Y. “Aries”, was built by Barrow Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Barrow in 1880 for the Victorian industrialist Sir James Ramsden, to his own design. The Yacht was then passed onto the Duke of Leeds and was a familiar sight at Cowes. The yacht was offered to the Admiralty for wartime duties in August 1914. At the time of her loss, she was operated by the Royal Navy.

On the 31st October 1915, H.M.Y. “Aries” was sunk by a mine from the German submarine UC-6 (Matthias Graf von Schmettow), off Leathercoat. In total, 22 crew members died.





Researched by Becky Lonergan 2013.

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