Soldier fought many battles

20:27, Jul 15 2013

Francis (Frank) Joseph Martin somehow managed to survive World War I - despite being wounded four times.

Many soldiers died within minutes of first charging into battle.

But Francis, also known as Paddy, was a rarity - one of the few who signed up at the start of the conflict in 1914 and made it through to the end.

He fought in some of the war's bloodiest campaigns - including Gallipoli - and emerged scarred and badly shell shocked to resume civilian life as a carrier in Auckland.

But a road accident on April 28, 1930, did what German and Turkish bullets failed to do a few years prior.

Francis was one hour into a trip to visit his brother in Wellington when he lost control of his car on a dangerous corner near Taupiri in the Waikato.


His vehicle left the road and crashed into the Mangawara Stream where he drowned.

His death was especially cruel in a year when four other members of his wider family died in separate incidents.

The brother he was on his way to see was also unwell and still recovering after being run down by a car several months before.

Francis spent his early years in Wellington where he was well known in rugby circles.

He was never destined to lead a quiet life and was involved in another tragic accident along Karangahape Rd when an elderly man walked out in front of the lorry he was driving in 1921.

Francis made an unsuccessful bid to avoid the man who died shortly after he was struck. The crash landed him in court a few weeks later where he was cleared of any wrong doing.

Francis, 42 at the time of his own death, was survived by his wife and two children.

He is buried in the servicemen's section at Waikumete Cemetery.

Western Leader