27TH AUGUST 1918 AGE 27


To Private Martin's father's, his son had died in the war to end all wars. The phrase, which became one of the catchphrases of the war and is always associated with the American president Woodrow Wilson, in fact owes its origins to the title of a book by HG Wells, published in late 1914, containing a number of newspaper articles he'd written in August 1914. The title of the book was, 'The War That Will End War'. And how would it end war? By smashing German militarism.

"We are fighting Germany ... we have to destroy an evil system of government and the mental and material corruption that has got hold of the German imagination and taken possession of German life. We have to smash Prussian Imperialism" which "has been for forty years an intolerable nuisance in the earth. Ever since the crushing of the French in 1871 the evil thing has grown and cast its spreading shadow over Europe. Germany has preached a propaganda of ruthless force and political materialism to the whole uneasy world. "Blood and iron," she boasted, was the cement of her unity, and almost as openly the little, mean, aggressive statesmen and professors who have guided her destinies to this present conflict have professed cynicism and an utter disregard of any ends but nationally selfish ends, as though it were religion."

I think you will have got the picture by now. It's worth following the link to have a look at the book as it certainly illustrates what some people thought they were fighting for and why it would be the war to end war. It wasn't, as we know, but then Wells himself said:

"There can be no diplomatic settlement that will leave German Imperialism free to explain away its failure to its people and start new preparations. We have to go on until we are absolutely done for, or until the Germans as a people know that they are beaten, and are convinced that they have had enough of war."

And that of course didn't happen until after 1945.
I have been able to find out virtually nothing about Private H Martin, except that his father was Mr JJ Martin, that he lived at 3 West Beech Road, Wood Green, London, and that he was killed in action on 27 August 1918 when the 3rd London Regiment Royal Fusiliers, with which he was serving, took the village of Maricourt.