Cyril Martin

Like so many of the veterans we found, the youngest of an already young volunteer army, Cyril Martin had to lie to enlist. Getting in took some doing on his part. He signed up for the navy the instant a military recruiter arrived at the munitions factory where he worked, but his father, a strict Baptist, yanked him when he found out. Most of the local offi-cers already knew that at 15 he was too young. But he finally con-vinced the military that he could, at least, blow a bugle.

The son of a struggling brick-layer, he was determined to go to the front line. "He was quite impressed with the soldiers," remembered his daughter, Naomi Martin. "Oh, they thought it sounded so adventurous." So young Cyril Martin landed in the trenches in Belgium and France, in some of the nastiest battles of the war, like Passchen-daele, and at barely 16, running supplies to the front line with the railway unit, he learned all about blood and mud and gas attacks. He is still haunted by the shrieks of the cannon-hauling mules when the shells struck them. As fast as they would lay track down, the Germans would blow it up. He looked hard for God in the trenches. As he would later tell his daughter, when pressed, he saw both the evil that men can do, and the sacrifices that men can make.

The war shook his faith, but it did not kill it. At home again, he eventually became a minister, serving churches in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He returned to com-bat as chaplain in the Second World War. He and his wife raised seven children, six of whom were adopted. He now lives, at 102, in a nursing home in Edmonton. De-spite all he saw, his daughter said, "he always believed in the basic good of humanity.

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