The AIF Project

Martin Joseph DURKAN

Regimental number4124
Place of birthKillasser, Co Mayo, Ireland
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationCane cutter
AddressLismore, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation30
Height5' 11"
Weight160 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Catherine Durkan, Doontas, Kilasser, Swinford, Ireland
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date14 September 1915
Place of enlistmentLismore, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name26th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/43/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A73 Commonwealth on 28 March 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll26th Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Military Medal

'Displayed great courage and devotion to duty in collecting wounded in No Man's Land after attack on Maze Trenches.'
Recommendation date: 29 November 1916

Military Medal

'Did exceptionally good work at Flers and afterwards as a stretcher bearer.'
Recommendation date: 1 March 1917

Mention in Despatches

'For exceptionally good work at Flers as a stretcher bearer, when he repeatedly carried wounded from No Man's Land under extremely heavy fire. Also done good work since.'
Awarded, and promulgated, 'London Gazette', second Supplement, No. 30107 (1 June 1917); 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 169 (4 October 1917).

FateKilled in Action 9 October 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial

Military Medal

'For great courage and devotion to duty in collecting wounded in No Man's Land and bringing them into our trenches after the attack on the MAZE trenches south of the LE BARQUE on 14th November, 1916. He exposed himself to considerable danger in doing this, but continued to do so in spite of the fact that 3 other stretcher bearers were shot in performing the same task. He was directly the means of saving several lives by rendering early assistance.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 174
Date: 11 October 1917

Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: Proceeded overseas to France from 7th Training Bn, England, 25 July 1916; taken on strength, 26th Bn, 8 August 1916.

Admitted to 7th Field Ambulance, 20 August 1916 (not yet diagnosed); returned to unit, 1 September 1916.

Mentioned in Despatches for good services rendered.

Found guilty of drunkenness, 3 April 1917: admonished by CO.

Awarded Military Medal.

On leave, 20 May 1917; rejoined unit from leave, 13 June 1917.

Special mention in Sir Douglas Haig's despatch of 9 April 1917.

Killed in action, Belgium, 9 October 1917.

Medals: Military Medal, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, DURKAN Martin Joseph

Print format