WATCH: 96-year-old whose husband fought for SAS under Blair Mayne trying to save War Years Remembered museum in Northern Ireland

A 96-year-old woman from England has launched a bid to help save a war museum in Northern Ireland.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 8:38 pm

Winnie Martin visited War Years Remembered in Ballyclare earlier this year to share wartime memories belonging to her and her husband Sergeant Stanley Martin, who fought for the SAS under highly-decorated Newtownards soldier Blair Mayne.

With a little help from her daughter Joan, she produced a video encouraging people to do what they could to help save the museum run by David McCallion which is soon to be evicted from its current site and is desperate to find a suitable location to house its many large artefacts.

Winnie said: “The museum urgently needs your help. It’s running out of time. It needs new premises, funding and support.”

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Winnie Martin made a video appeal to save the War Years Remembered museum

Winnie’s father served in World War One and was gassed at Ypres, but luckily he survived.

She said: “By 1939 he was too old for the Army so joined the Home Guard along with hundreds of other people.

“We often laughed at them because they trained using broomsticks for weapons but they did a marvellous job. They saved so many lives.”

Her brother-in-law was taken prisoner in Burma during World War Two while Winnie herself joined the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service).

Winnie Martin with her husband Stanley during World War Two in Egypt

She said: “When I was posted to Cairo I became the commanding officer’s driver. It was there I met my husband, Stanley Martin who served under Paddy Mayne.”

She said she had an amazing visit to the museum in Ballyclare, which houses rare Blair Mayne memorabilia.

She hoped that with the help of fundraising David and his team of volunteers could keep the museum alive.

She said: “If we allow this museum to close we might as well stop commemorating Armistice Day, so please help before it’s too late.”

Her great nephew Robert, who lives in Northern Ireland, said: “Winnie has taken it upon herself to go on a crusade to try in some way help to save the museum. She’s like a dog with a bone.”

Of the stories his great aunt would tell him, Robert joked: “She hated Paddy Mayne because every time my great uncle Stanley came home from being out with him he was drunk as a skunk.

“She also tells about having to give the men free drink to get them into the tents in the desert to listen to Vera Lynn, because she couldn’t sing a note. I was astonished by that.

“She has some great wee stories. Her bottom line is trying to publicise the museum.”

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