Alfred Martlew

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance Alfred Martlew
Announcement Date: November 2, 2018

Alfred Martlew was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party. He was uncompromising in his stance against the war but despite his protestations he was ordered to join the Non-Combatant Corps. He was one of the 16 men sent from Richmond to France in May 1916.

After returning to England, Martlew was imprisoned at Winchester before being offered a place on the Home Office Scheme. This gave ‘genuine’ and ‘sincere’ conscientious objectors the opportunity to undertake civilian work under civilian control as an alternative to time in prison. Martlew worked in the quarry at Dyce Camp, spinning at Wakefield Work Centre, West Yorkshire, and tree felling in Dalswinton, Dumfries. But like many other conscientious objectors he questioned whether the work he was performing was still contributing, if indirectly, to the war effort.

In 1917 Martlew went missing from his Home Office Scheme post and travelled to York where, before the war, he had been a ledger clerk at Rowntrees Cocoa works. There he met his fiancée, Annie Leeman. He gave her his money, watch and other possessions, and told her he intended to hand himself in to the police authorities.

This was their last meeting. Just over a week later Martlew’s body was found in the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe. Although the inquest into his death returned the unresolved verdict of ‘found drowned’, the coroner thought it likely that he had taken his own life.

Return to the ribbon

Explore more memories from the ribbon

  • Herbert Read DSO, MC

    Herbert Read served in the 2nd, 7th and 10th battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment from 1915 to 1918. During his time in service he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in leading a trench raid, successfully securing a German prisoner for interrogation and a Distinguished Service Order for his role commanding the 2nd Battalion during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. He published two volumes of war poetry during the conflict and is commemorated alongside Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. He became a leading figure in the 20th Century, as curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Art at Edinburgh and Harvard Universities. He counted Picasso, Dali, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Peggy Guggenheim and Man Ray amongst his friends. A knighthood in 1953 (at the suggestion of Winston Churchill) came as a surprise to his circle of political associates. His headstone at St Gregory’s Minster near Helmsley reads ‘Knight, Poet, Anarchist’.

  • Albert Norris

    265990 Private Albert Norris served in the Yorkshire Regiment, joining up sometime after January 1915. For his service during the First World War he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He was transferred to the Royal Munster Fusiliers and served at the garrison in Cork. Following the war, he ran a Draper’s shop in Tonbridge, Kent. In 1924 He married Myra Donovan. Albert’s step granddaughter is Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic Champion.

  • Horace Stoney

    Horace Stoney was born on 7th December 1897. He was baptised in February 1898 at the Free Methodist Chapel, in Leeds close to where they were living at the time. At the age of 13 he was working as an office boy for an engineer and living at home with his parents in Leeds. On 10th December 1915, three days after he turned 18 Horace went to Leeds, joined the Royal Army Service Corp (RASC) and was posted to the Army Reserve. His service record includes the statement: “Transferred to Learners’ Section” on 10th October 1916. A contract survives, signed by Horace the day previous, declaring that he joined the RASC with a view to be trained as a Motor Transport Driver. Success would guarantee him an additional 1 shilling per day in pay, and provide him with a skill to use after the war. The RASC ensured that ammunition, food and equipment was delivered forming a complex supply network. Horace survived the war, although he contracted malaria, and was discharged in 1919. The 1939 Register lists him as living with his parents, John and Sarah, and his aunt Harriet, at his childhood home in Leeds. He was working as a Clerk Store Highway Constable and although he is listed married, his wife is not mentioned on the record.