21-year-old Captain Clement Martineau, 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died of wounds on 5th May 1918 after being badly wounded and taken prisoner on 10th April 1918.
Clement Martineau was born on 2nd January 1897 and was baptised at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 21st February 1897. His parents were Geoffrey Arthur Martineau and Jessie Clementina (née Madeley) who had married in 1896. He was the couple’s eldest child – his younger brother, Gaston Madeley Martineau, was born on 20th December 1900. The boys had a half-sister – Evelyn Mary Martineau (1888-1964) from their father’s first marriage to Blanche Mary Neal (1864-1888).
The family lived at Touchwood Hall, Drury Lane, Solihull, which had been the home of the Madeley family. Geoffrey Martineau (1861-1934), an Old Silhillian who attended Solihull School in the late 1860s/early 1870s, was a manufacturer of steel hinges in Birmingham. He was descended from Gaston Martineau, a French surgeon and Huguenot refugee who settled in Norwich in the late 17th century. One branch of the family moved to Birmingham in the early 19th century, and Geoffrey Martineau’s parents moved to Solihull around 1863.
Clement attended Solihull School, where he won prizes for exam merit and Nature Study in 1912. He was leading cadet in 1913, and became Cadet Colour Sergeant of the Solihull School Contingent Officers Training Corps. He left school to take up a commission in the Army and was gazetted Second Lieutenant (on probation) with the Royal Warwickshire Regiiment in July 1914. By the end of the year he had been promoted Lieutenant and he was posted to France on 18th July 1915.
The Battalion war diary lists Captain C. Martineau as being in charge of “A” Company when battle commenced on 10th April 1918 in the left subsector of the Messines Sector between the Wambeke and Blauwepoortbeke. “C” and “D” Companies were in the front line, with “A” and “B” Companies in the reserve line, which was the main line of resistance.
Captain Martineau was listed in the Battalion war diary of 18th April as “wounded and prisoner”. The action 10th-18th April had seen the Battalion suffer the following casualties:
- 1 officer and 19 other ranks killed
- 1 officer and 2 other ranks died of wounds
- 6 officers and 225 other ranks wounded
- 1 officer wounded and prisoner
- 2 officers wounded and missing
- 2 officers and 207 other ranks missing
Captain Clement Martineau died of his injuries just over three weeks later. He is buried at Kortrijk (St Jan) Communal Cemetery, and is commemorated locally on was memorials at Solihull and Solihull School. The original battlefield cross marking his grave is in St Alphege Church.
It is said that his mother kept a candle burning in his memory at Touchwood Hall. The hall was demolished in 1963 in order to make way for the central area redevelopment that resulted in the creation of Mell Square.
Clement’s brother, Gaston, married and moved to Penn, Wolverhampton and succeeded his father as Managing Director of the family firm, Matchett and Martineau, in 1927. He was killed in a car accident in 1956.
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