Col James (Jim) Martlew OBE



15 February 2013
aged 94 years.

Col Brian Gorski

Julia, Jim's daughter has asked me to say a few words about Jim, but I am not known for my brevity.
She was very clear that I was not to place him on a pedestal - however, I shall try and tell it as I knew the man. The soldier, my friend and confidante.
I have known Jim for about 20 years. Many have known him a lot longer, but I hope my thoughts about him chime with yours.
So what of the soldier known affectionately as 'Whispering Jim' in the XX?
We can all talk of the common characteristics that mark out a soldier of 26 years service - loyalty, dedication, leadership, team commitment etc. Jim had all of these but he was more than the standard shell of an officer.
Jim commanded respect at all levels - to use a cliché he was a true soldiers' soldier ….. more than that, he was respected by people regardless of creed, nationality, sex or the colour of their skin. He had no veils of pretence ….. no disguise ….. what you saw is what you got. Straight and direct.
As an example, few people may know that Jim looked after a Prisoner of War Camp after the Liberation of Alderney in the Channel Isles. He was presented with a small token of their appreciation by the prisoners (and) in this folder are written the words:

''By his scrupulous fairness at all times
His energetic Interest in the lives of the PoWs
Their welfare and troubles
Their sport and camp activities
He created a camp life
Which was as homelike as humanly possible under conditions
In which the opposite might easily have been the result.
Because of this, Memories of Alderney
Will be pleasant ones and it is with genuine regret
That the PoWs wish Captain Martlew
Goodbye, Long Life and Good Luck''

Despite being known as 'Whispering Jim' and being loud, Jim listened. He was a real friend to all, Most importantly, if you were in trouble, Jim helped. In essence he was approachable; had no airs and graces and respected people, rather than process or protocol.
Jim would not pull his punches - he was direct, truthful and honest - sometimes at the expense of diplomacy and his career. Some say he should have attained rank higher than he did, but he was quite clear that he would get his reward in heaven! Perhaps we might debate that one later …...
In particular he was always devoted to those in his charge and to those principles in which he believed. Woe betide anyone who interfered with his principles or charges. This trait, in particular, endeared him to all ranks and to those he represented.
However, if you were wrong he would tell you - publically if you were junior to him and privately if senior to him ……..but very clearly and you knew about it. This appears to be a trait that has been handed down in his family.
Brevity and succinctness …. Jim hated . This was exemplified by his planning of his own funeral . It was just Jim. Precise, accurate, succinct and the mark of the man ….. Jim knew exactly where he wanted to go and take things.
But he was no angel. He could be awkward, stubborn and obstinate.
After his retirement he devoted his time to the Regiment and Regimental Museum; he reorganized the Association; organised events. He was at the core of the Regiment in Lancashire.
During my 15 years. Jim lined up behind me; supported me; told me where I was going to have difficulties, and, even if I he disagreed with me he held firm to my line.
I referred to Jim's nickname of 'Whispering Jim' This was derived from the fact he had no volume control. On was on …… and full on! If a soldier was being castigated ….. the barracks knew about it. If Jim was at dinner ….. you knew about it!
I have a short poem which captures the essence of Jim's departure:

''Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken In the morning's hush;
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.''

So, as we all gather to say good bye, one last quote from Winston Churchill:
''I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal
of meeting me is another matter.''
If Jim were sitting in the congregation now, he would be the first to say 'Gorski! Stop waffling and get on with it! '
So my final words are……. Jim, go to your rest. You have served your country, your Regiment and your friends and family with utmost devotion. God bless.

A book given to Col Jim by the POW's on closeure of the POW camp in Alderney in the Channel Isle 1946