Presumed Killed

James Martin, center top

Top center, with pipe. Photo taken by his wife Stella, "of which she was very fond, saying that it very neatly captured his character."
Age 16, child unknown

Age 16, child unknown
With Stella Harcourt

With Stella Harcourt,

Birthday Telegram

Birthday telegram sent from Halifax October 14th, 1940

By Noel J. Mepham, grandson...

My grandmother, Stella, or 'Nan' as she was simply known to my brothers and I, never re-married, and often talked about 'Jim' very fondly and with a heartfelt longing, reminiscing of their days together. They were keen ramblers as can be seen in the attached photographs, and had been looking forward to life in their brand new home at 54, Parsonage Way, Manorway, Belvedere, with their newly born daughter Carol and looking forward to more children at the time war broke out.

As with so many young families like this, their plans were not to be. During the war, Stella contributed to the war effort by driving ambulances during The Blitz, and unfortunately seeing first-hand the death and destruction caused by the war. In addition to this and losing her husband, she also narrowly escaped death after being machine-gunned by German plane as she ran along the street pushing my mother in her pram. These experiences led her never to forgive the German people, also leaving her with an absolute aversion to the smell of fire smoke and damp plaster dust for the rest of her life because of the horrific memories it stirred for her.

However, despite this Stella lived a long and generally happy life after the war, although of course not without the challenges faced by many a widow with a young child to raise during those austere post-war years. With Stella having to work full-time, my mum Carol was largely brought-up and cared for in her early years by my great-grandmother, Esther - who sadly died just a couple of days before mum and dad were married in 1960.

Stella Martin 1980 In 1966, my parents visited my dad's brother who was at that time working in Harrogate for ICI, and liked the area so much that they put a deposit down on the King's Road house more or less on the spot. Stella followed soon after, initially living with us at King's Road, but then moving to Batchelor Gardens, where she lived until a year or so before she died in June 1998. Although a highly intelligent woman, she had continued to work in fairly modest accounts clerk-type roles until her retirement in 1975 - such was the way of the workplace for women in those days.

Despite this, she lived very comfortably, and was a very active presence throughout mine and my brothers' very happy childhood. Sadly my mum Carol, now 75 years old herself, is not in the best of health either. She astounded her doctors by surviving a major heart operation about six years ago, but now is suffering from Alzheimer's disease as well as a form of vascular dementia caused by her heart condition. Her short-term memory is currently down to about one minute and deteriorating all the time. However, her long-term memory, as is often the case in this situation, remains sound.

Like my Nan, Mum always talks very fondly of her father, but is always saddened by the fact that she was so young when he died that she has no specific memories of him - although she does often talk about recognising an 'essence' of him, usually triggered by the smell of pipe tobacco.

On board the Jervis Bay

On board the Jervis Bay in tropical gear circa June 1940. and "back" view

"Back" view

HMS Jervis Bay (click to enlarge) ... possibly Dakar in Senegal, where the ship picked up supplies en-route from Freetown to Bermuda.
Jervis Bay Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay Standard "The sailor who tamed a pigeon"

"The sailor who tamed a pigeon"... possibly Norman Lattimore


Notification of "Missing on War Service"