World War I began while Marie was still trying to decide what to do next. She saw an opportunity to do good and break away from home so she started Red Cross nurse training. Soon after, fighting started in the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli and two of her brothers, Tommy and Charlie, were deployed there.
“’Now, what to do?’ That was the question I kept asking myself. I loved home and I knew I was going to find the sacrifice of parting with Mother a great, great sacrifice. So I kept praying and then the Great War came, and I thought, well, now here is an opportunity of going out to do good and at the same time to break away from home. And that by breaking away from those we love, that I would more clearly see the will of our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ. So I volunteered and not knowing much about nursing I thought it would be a good plan to be trained first. So I got entrance into one of the large hospitals in Dublin to start my training. I was only there a year when I was called. Gallipoli had started. My brothers had gone there and … much help was needed. So all those who entered as Red Cross nurses in this hospital were asked to volunteer for Gallipoli. We were all ready. We went out.”
She sailed for Malta in October 1915 and was posted to a military hospital, where soldiers wounded at Gallipoli were brought. While there, Marie learned that her brothers were wounded and that Charlie was missing in action.
In 1916, Marie was sent to nurse in France and cared for soldiers suffering from gas poisoning and terrible mental wounds. She could hear the roar from the front line throughout the terrible Battle of the Somme. One evening she got the news that Charlie had died. Grief-stricken herself, in a letter home she tried to comfort her mother.
She wrote,“It is really impossible to realize that we shall never see his dear face again.”
Marie Martin was a woman who experienced the horrors and carnage of war.
“When Gallipoli was finished, then we were sent to France. From there I came home once again to my happy home. One of my brothers had been killed and the other seriously wounded. But I got the welcome from Mother. She was so glad to have me back. But during that time in France I saw what one can do nursing, as a nurse. I just thought, what a wonderful thing it would be if we could have a group of women dedicated to God, heart and soul, with only one thought, to love Him and to love souls, and through that to give them the comfort of the Catholic Church. How this was to be done I’d no idea but that stuck in my mind so I prayed and waited.”