Keys Martin

Name   William Martin Keys  Rank: Lieutenant

Number VX108157

Battalion   22nd Infantry Battalion

Place of Birth. Dandenong 31 August 1920

Next of Kin   Ella Downie, his mother, was NOK. He was the son of Albert Loch Keys and Ella Lillian Keys later Downie of Meeniyan

Date and place of enlistment 9 August 1942 in the field

Location on enlistment   Meeniyan

Occupation. Farmer

Date and place of death 17 December 1943 in Papua New Guinea aged 23

Location of grave or memorial

Martin is Buried in Lae War Cemetery Papua New Guinea. His name is on the Dumbalk memorial, the Leongatha memorial and the memorial at Leongatha Secondary College (formerly Leongatha High).

Relationship to Woorayl Shire

He lived with his family in Meeniyan and is well remembered by his extended family

He was born in Dandenong in 1920 and lived in Elwood before moving to Meeniyan. Martin attended Meeniyan State School from 1929 and Leongatha High School which he attended in the 1930’s. This was in the days before the use of school buses and he rode to High School on a horse. After leaving school he worked on the family farm. 

When he enlisted in the army, Martin was recorded as a farmer of Southlands, Farmer’s Rd Meeniyan

Military History

 Martin was an original member of the Leongatha detachment of the 22nd Militia Battalion when it was formed in 1938 and went on to full time army service in 1941.

He showed potential as a leader and was made a lieutenant in March 1942. Martin was a skilled and popular platoon and company officer.

The 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion sailed for New Guinea in early 1943 and saw action in Milne Bay, Lae and Finschhafen.  In 1943 a special group was set up under Martin’s command. This group was trained for hazardous work. In December 1943 Martin’s platoon suffered six casualties in an advance against much opposition. Martin was badly wounded by machine gun fire and he died the next day, 17 December. He was 23 years old. Martin is buried in the Lae War Cemetery.  

 

 

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