• Separating fact from fiction when researching people •

• The case of Thomas Martyn •


Thomas John Cardell Martyn is described as having a distinguished and decorated military record followed by a successful business career, notably as the founder of Newsweek magazine.

His Wikipedia entry described him as an 'ace' who lost a leg during WW1.

According to his memoirs, bographies, his official military record, public records and other publications:

  • Joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 3 March 1915[1].
  •   Date of birth given as 3 Jan 1894, Greenhays, Manchester.

      Occupation given as banker.

  • Sailed for the UK 1 July 1915 on board SS 'Grampian'[2].
  •   part of the 4rd Pioneer Battalion.

      shown as Cpl. 430304 TJC Martyn, 102nd Regiment.

  • Commissioned in the London Regiment as 2nd Lt 11 November 1915[3].
TJC Martyn

So far, so good. However, a closer look reveals more than a few inconsistencies. These become more numerous the more one digs.

My research illustrates some of the difficulties faced by historians and genealogists.

Inconsistencies >


1. Canadian attestation papers

  Incorrectly indexed as TJA Martyn

2. Nominal Roll of Canadian Expeditionary Force

3. London Gazette 22 Nov 1915 p11587

4. London Gazette 10 Jun 1916 p5812

5. RFC/RAF record

6. London Gazette 22 April 1918 p4829

7. London Gazette 1 January 1919 p97

8. 'Flight' magazine 1 May 1919 p566

9. Aviation Adventures. The true story of the WW1 Royal Flying Corps pilot who founded Newsweek. Thomas J.C. Martyn. 2015

10. Inside the Founding of Newsweek. How a hot-tempered, one legged RAF pilot launched an American media giant. Thomas J.C. Martyn/Anne Martyn Alexander

11. The man Time forgot. Isaiah Wilner. 2006