The extract below is from The Cheshire Regiment Association Newsletter March 2002
MAJOR GENERAL PETER L de C MARTIN, CBE
Major General Peter L de C Martin CBE succeeded Lt. General Sir Napier Crookenden KCB, DSO, OBE as Colonel of the Regiment in 1971 and served in this capacity until 1978. During his tenure of office Prince Charles became our Colonel in Chief in 1977 and New Colours were presented to the 1st Battalion in 1973.
General Peter who was born in India, his father was in the Indian Medical Service, was commissioned into the Regiment in July 1939 and posted to the 2nd Battalion. On the outbreak of war, September 1939 he went with the 2nd Bn to France with the British Expeditionary Force and in May 1940 took part in the advance into Belgium and the subsequent withdrawal to Dunkirk safely bringing his platoon back to England.
In 1941 the Battalion had been transferred from the 1st to the 50th Infantry Division and went with it to the Middle East, serving in Cyprus, Palestine, Iraq and Syria. In January 1942, 50 Division joined the 8th Army in defensive positions at Gazala in Libya. General Peter now promoted to Lieutenant and Company 2i/c saw further action in the withdrawal to El Alamein in June
1942, being taken prisoner and escaping twice. The Bn fought in the battles of Alam HaIfa and El Alamein (November 1942) and Medenine and the Mareth Line (March 1943) and Enfidaville, after which 50 Division was withdrawn to Egypt to prepare for the invasion of Sicily.
By now promoted to Captain and OC “A" Company they landed on Sicily on D Day 10 July 1943 and took part in the advance to Messina including the savage battle for Primosole Bridge. After Sicily it was back to England to prepare for the Second Front. Now with the rank of Major and Company Commander the 2nd Bn landed on D Day (6 June 1944) on Gold Beach and took part in the Normandy Campaign, the advance to Brussels, the battle of the Gheel Bridgehead on the Albert Canal and in Operation “Market Garden”.
50 Division returned to England in December 1944 and in June 1945 the Battalion joined 60 Light Division to prepare for the invasion of Japan, forestalled by VJ Day. In November 1945 the Battalion returned to the Middle East for Internal Security operations in Palestine. In 1947 General Martin was appointed Battalion 21C. In 1947 the 1st Battalion was put in suspended animation and the 2nd Bn was renamed the 1st Bn.
Between 1948 and 1956 General Martin held various appointments including Instructor Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Staff College, Camberley, Brigade Major 126 Infantry Brigade, Instructor, School of Infantry. In 1956 he returned to the 1st Bn as Company Commander serving in Berlin and Malaya. From 1958 - 1960 he was posted to GHQ Far East Land Forces, Singapore and returned to the 1st Bn as Commanding Officer from 1961 - 63 serving in Northern Ireland and BAOR.
One thing that General Martin was very proud of while commanding the 1st Battalion was starting the sequence of three successive wins in the Army Athletics Championship.
Following his command of the 1st Bn he served two years as the Senior Army Personnel and Logistics Officer Cyprus District before his promotion to Brigadier and commander of the 48 Gurkha Infantry Brigade on the Hong Kong border with China from 1966-68. His next appointment was Senior Personnel and Logistics Officer HQ Army Strategic Command and HQ UK Land Forces. General Martin’s final job with the rank of Major General was Director of Personal Services (Army) Ministry of Defence responsible for the Army’s discipline, welfare, pay and conditions of service and ceremonial. He retired from the Army in 1975.
Post Army Life
For the next ten years 1976-86 he was Head of Administration at Smith and Williamson, London (Financial Management Consultants)
General Martin continued his active pace of life by being the Services Liaison Officer for The Variety Club of Great Britain “The greatest Children’s Charity in the World” from 1976-1986. In 1986 he was awarded the Variety Club Silver Heart for Services to Variety. He remains a "Barker” of the VCGB. 1989 to date President, Lady Gower’s Hospital Fund for Officers Families. General Peter was Chairman 1975-85 and Vice President 1985-89. A fore runner of BUPA etc. started by his Grandmother, Lady Gower in India in 1911.
1975-1996 Member National Executive Committee, Forces Help Society and Lord Roberts Workshops (until amalgamation with SSAFA)
1977-1992 General Committee member Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society (Combat Stress)
1981-1994 Director, United Women’s Homes Association (Low cost rented housing - originally for Service widows)
1995 to date - National President Normandy Veterans Association (Vice President 1989-1995) (The NVA has 105 Branches and 10,500 members)
1994 to date - Chairman The Spirit of Normandy Trust (help to servicemen and dependents in need and education of the Public in events leading up to D Day)
1992 to date - Committee member British Friends of Normandy (Currently planning the British Garden of Remembrance at Caen).
General Martin, who tells us that he has had a wonderfully exciting and amusing time with the 22nd, lists as his recreations golf, skiing - alas no more, looking after old soldiers and helping to keep the Regiment in being. All these are in addition to the excellent contribution he has made to the CRA. It was through his initiative that the present management structure of the Association was put in place and I am sure we all agree that the CRA has gone from strength to strength.
General Martin has maintained a presence at our reunions and through him the Regiment has a plaque in the Museum at Arromanches to commemorate the 2nd Bn’s Normandy campaign which will be unveiled in March. During the war he saw extensive active service in the Middle East, Sicily and Europe and after the war in Malaya.
He has been a stalwart of the Regiment and the Association and was one of the first recipients of the Colonel of the Regiment’s Award in 1990 on the day of his 80th birthday. It has been a pleasure to recall his record of service to the 22nd over the past 63 years and we hope that he will continue to be an active member of all things Regimental for many years to come.
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