|Date of Birth||March 2, 1892|
|Place of Birth||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||John Jorgenson (father), Whitemouth, Manitoba, then Mrs. W.B. Allin (sister), Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Regimental Number||229401 and 460322|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Age at Enlistment||22|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||03/06/1917|
|Age at Death||25|
|Buried At||La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, Vimy, France|
|Plot||V. A. 5.|
Private Martin Jorgenson was one of five brothers who enlisted for service in the First World War. The five boys – Jacob, Martin, John, Gustave and Thomas – came from a large family in Whitemouth, Manitoba. Martin was killed in France in June 1917 but his four brothers survived and returned home after the war.
Martin’s parents, John Jorgenson and Dina Amelia Anderson, were from Norway and they had a family of 17 or 18 children but at least four of them died very young. The oldest ones (Ole, Minnie, Annie, Jacob and Casper) were born in Norway before the family emigrated. John came to Canada first, possibly with Ole and the two girls, and Dina followed later with Jacob and Casper, arriving in Halifax on 9 December 1889 on the SS Oregon. At the time of the 1891 census the Jorgensons were living in the Keewatin area in northwestern Ontario and John was working at a sawmill. Martin was born in Keewatin on 2 March 1892. Not long after that his parents decided to move to Whitemouth, Manitoba where they took up farming. The rest of the children were born in Manitoba (Hubert, John, Gustave, Thomas, Richard, Charlotte and Walter). Walter, who was probably the youngest, was born in 1908 and their parents died just a few years later, Dina in October 1913 and John in December 1914. Some of the boys continued to run the family farm in Whitemouth and the oldest son Ole had his own farm nearby. Casper found work with the railway and he moved to Kenora, Ontario. His sister Annie (Mrs. Walter Allin) also lived in Kenora where her husband worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The war started in August 1914 and Martin enlisted on 28 October in Winnipeg, joining the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. Before enlisting he’d served in the militia with the 90th Regiment. Martin was with the 27th Battalion for only six weeks and he likely had to return home to Whitemouth because of the death of his father, who was killed in a hunting accident on 3 December 1914. His mother had passed away the previous year and his youngest brother and sister were just 6 and 9 years old. Martin enlisted again the following summer, signing his second attestation on 7 June 1915 in Winnipeg and joining the 61st Battalion. His next of kin was his married sister Mrs. Annie Allin of Kenora. His battalion trained in Manitoba for almost a year. They left for England in the spring, embarking from Halifax in April 1916 on the SS Olympic. Most of the recruits were absorbed into the 11th Reserve Battalion but a month after arriving Martin was transferred directly to the 44th Battalion. The 44th had been training in England since the previous fall. On 10 August the men were sent to Southampton where they embarked for France on the HMS Viper. They landed at Le Havre the next day and a few months later the 44th Battalion became part of the 10th Brigade in the newly-formed 4th Canadian Division.
That fall the first three Canadian Divisions were moved to the Somme area in France and following successful operations near the village of Courcelette their next objective was Regina Trench. Despite repeated attempts they were unable to capture the trench and in mid-October they were relieved by the fresh troops of the 4th Canadian Division. The 44th Battalion arrived at the Somme area early in the month and they took part in the assault on Regina Trench on 25 October. The battalion suffered heavy losses in the attack. Martin was injured in the knee and ankle but he was out of action for only one day. From the War Diary of the 44th Battalion, 26 October 1916: ‘The Battalion rested during the day. The condition of their clothes and equipment was deplorable and shows the hardships they had to endure during the [attack]. Many of the men suffering from exhaustion and exposure.‘ The 4th Division finally captured Regina Trench on 11 November and the Somme Offensive ended a week later. In less than three months there the Canadians suffered 24,000 casualties.
Early in 1917 the Canadian Corps began preparing and training for their next big assault, the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April 1917). The operation was a remarkable success for the Canadians and has often been called our national ‘coming of age.’ Following the capture of the ridge the 4th Division took part in further operations near Vimy and early in June they were ordered to capture several fortified positions between the town of Avion and the Souchez River. One of the objectives was the hamlet of La Coulotte. The operation began at midnight on 2-3 June and the men were involved in heavy fighting as they advanced towards La Coulotte. They reached the hamlet but could not hold on and before dawn on 3 June they were forced back to their original position. From the War Diary of the 44th Battalion casualties on 3 June were 29 killed, 145 wounded and 77 missing. Martin was one of the soldiers who fell that day.
Martin is buried in La Chaudiere Military Cemetery on the outskirts of Vimy in France. He’s commemorated on the Cenotaph in Whitemouth, Manitoba and on page 266 of Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance. on display in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. He’s also commemorated on the 44th Canadian Infantry Vimy Ridge Monument in Winnipeg.
Martin’s nephew Howard Allin of Kenora served with the Royal Canadian Artillery during the Second World War. He died in 1940 while training and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Martin’s brothers Jacob, Gustave and Casper, his sister Annie Allin and other family members are also buried there.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Cenotaph in Whitemouth, Manitoba.