Martin Lobl (served as Martin Laughton)

Private, Pioneer Corps
Service no: 13116600
Died 11 Aug 1943
Buried Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation Cemetery, United Kingdom
Age 18

Martin was born on 4 Oct 1924 in Lackenbach, Austria to Benno (Benjamin) and Elsa nee Zoller and he had three sisters, Hilda, Helene and Rosa. On May 11 1938, the family applied to leave Austria but this was rejected. Helene managed to escape to England and Martin and his other sisters escaped via the Kindertransport organisation. Helene and Martin were sent to Glasgow where she worked as a shop assistant and Martin aged fifteen worked as a mantle machinist. On the outbreak of war Helene was interned on the Isle of Man until her release in June 1941. The three sisters emigrated to Canada in the 1950’s.

On 15 February 1941, Benno and Elsa were deported from Vienna to the ghetto at Opole. The liquidation of the ghetto began in Spring 1942. Benno and Elsa were murdered that year at either Belzec extermination camp or Sobibor as part of Operation Reinhardt.

Martin enlisted into the Pioneer Corps and was stationed at a depot in the West Country. On a day off Martin and another refugee soldier Harry Foster (Fogel) from Poland hired a canoe on the River Avon at Tewkesbury. Their canoe capsized and they were heard shouting for help, and despite a rescue being attempted both of them drowned.