'I go to die now' - a betrayed soldier's farewell letter is found after 90 years





A DEEPLY moving last letter written by a British soldier executed by the Germans in 1916 has been discovered in an attic in Hastings. It casts fresh light on one of the most tragic episodes of the First World War.

Private David Martin, from Belfast, was one of a handful of soldiers left behind during the British retreat in 1914, and then trapped behind the lines in German-occupied France.

For 18 months, Martin and three other British soldiers were hidden by French peasants in a little village near the Somme, until they were betrayed, tried as spies, and shot by a German firing squad.

On the night before he died, 28-year-old Martin wrote to his wife, Mary, on a typewriter provided by his German gaoler. He was uneducated and his letter contains numerous spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, yet it is also extraordinarily touching: the final testament of a terrified man summoning up his last reserves of piety, pluck and patriotism.


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