Driver Martin Henry Farrington, 110th Australian Howitzer Battery, AIF

Posted on 21 April 2021

Martin Farrington was born on the 28th of October 1895 to Mick and Mary Farrington in Mackay, Queensland. He attended the convent school in Mackay.

His childhood was possibly quite difficult, as his father was regularly charged with public drunkenness and his mother died in 1908, when he was 13 years old.

In 1910, Martin’s brother, Jack and their brother-in-law Peter Tynan were found guilty of murdering Peter’s brother, William. They were sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison.

Martin left school early and went on to work as a carter. Just short of six feet, he was a tall man for his time. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1915, naming his sister, Ellen Tynan, as his next of kin.

He was posted to the artillery and after a short period of training in Australia, was sent for service overseas. Farrington arrived in Plymouth in July 1916 and continued training. During the latter part of 1916 he spent time in hospital on a number of occasions, slowing his progress.

Driver Farrington arrived in France in January 1917 and within months was back in hospital. He finally returned to the field in May 1917 and was transferred to the 110th Howitzer Battery.

Life in the artillery was dangerous. The enemy searched constantly for the Australian guns, with the aim of putting them out of action, and the men were handling explosives and other dangerous materials on a daily basis.

On 14 June 1917, Farrington’s battery was stationed near Messines in Belgium.

A dump of ammunition sat nearby in order to supply the guns, and this was hit by a German shell, going up in a massive explosion. Sixteen men were killed outright, and another three died of their wounds. Six other men were wounded.

Said a soldier who was present at the time:

“The brave lads of the 110th Howitzer Battery, A.I.F., who fell here were nearly all from New South Wales. It was at the time of the brilliant victory at Messines. They had just moved their guns forward, and were preparing more ammunition at a dump, singing and joking as usual, when a shell fell in the stack 1.5s, causing 27 casualties.”

Driver Farrington was one of those killed in the blast.

He was 21 years old.

His name appears on a nearby monument erected by his comrades [pictured] and he was buried in Kandahar Farm Cemetery in Belgium.

Dr Meleah Hampton, Historian, Military History Section