Hibs fan legend Sam Martinez honoured for work during war

106 year old Sam Martinez visits Easter Road to see The Scottish Cup
106 year old Sam Martinez visits Easter Road to see The Scottish Cup
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At the grand age of 106, Sam Martinez was Hibs’ oldest fan who got his wish to see his team end their agonising 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup.

Sam, originally from Belize, followed the team’s every twist and turn during his time in the Capital before sadly passing away in 2016 just months after the memorable 3-2 victory over Rangers.

MA1RMC West Indians in Britain during the Second World War Men from British Honduras, who volunteered for service in British forestry units, pictured after arriving by ship at Greenock, Scotland.

MA1RMC West Indians in Britain during the Second World War Men from British Honduras, who volunteered for service in British forestry units, pictured after arriving by ship at Greenock, Scotland.

He arrived in Scotland in knee-deep snow from British Honduras in 1942, a 32-year-old woodcutter more used to the tropical rainforests of the Caribbean but determined to help fight Hitler.

Their efforts were vital in the war effort - and now are set to be officially recognised.

Timber was needed for a range of uses including pit props in the coal mining industry, which in turn produced the fuel for large scale manufacturing in the war.

Sam was one of around 900 men who made the perilous journey to Scotland where they were billeted in a number of camps, mainly in East Lothian, the Scottish Borders, Sutherland and in the western Highlands. The men had to endure harsh weather and very basic living conditions but were welcomed by the local communities.

He worked in the forests in the Highlands with others from his homeland until the BHFU was disbanded in 1943.

Nearly 75 years later he was still here, having done his bit for the Allies’ victory in the Second World War, fallen in love and forged a contented life in Edinburgh, more than 5,000 miles from his homeland.

Sam and the other men of the British Honduran Forestry Unit (BHFU) are to be recognised for their heroic contribution.

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, has written to the Belize High Commissioner to thank the country’s citizens for their efforts.

He has also asked Forestry Commission Scotland to explore ways to celebrate the work of BHFU, along with other Commonwealth citizens, who all rallied to help manage Scotland’s forests during the war. This year, to celebrate 100 years of public forestry in Scotland, the Scottish Government will also be celebrating the work of the BHFU and the contribution of other Commonwealth citizens in keeping Scottish timber supplies open during the World War Two effort.

Sam’s grandson, Yutsil Hoyo Diaz Martinez, lived with him for the last five years of his life and was able to document his experiences through video.

Yutsil said: “It is great that this part of Scottish history is being recognised and mentioned by the Scottish Government.

“I think it is important to be able to look back on these events and share them with our citizens and the world, since it’s not only the families who lived this but almost 1000 men who served with pride their “mother country” as my gramps used to call it.

“This year, as his grandson, I have had the pleasure of sharing his life stories by giving a talk during black history month in October and making a small appearance on BBC ‘s Home Front Heroes - it’s something I’ll always treasure.

“Hopefully small steps like these will get this story out for everyone to know.”