Cecil Radcliffe Martyn was born on 22 December 1874 at Countess Weir near Topsham, Devon. His father Henry Matthews Martyn was a prosperous master paper maker who later moved to Croydon and became a paper agent there. Cecil had three sisters, Helena, who had the same name as their mother, Hilda and Gladys, and a brother Henry. He went to Lancing College from 1889 to July 1890. He then studied for Holy Orders at Birkenhead Theological College and then at Durham University where he matriculated as an Arts student at Hatfield College in the Epiphany term of 1897.At the university Martyn excelled at rowing. He acted as secretary of both Hatfield and the University boat clubs and as a starter. In spring 1898 he was a member of the Hatfield crew that won the Senate Cup. His B.A. was awarded in 1899.
From 1900 he was Curate of St John the Baptist at Bedwardine, Worcestershire. He was ordained deacon in 1900 and priest in 1901. On 28 August 1903 he married Christine Florence Mabel Stuart at St Saviours Paddington; they had four daughters and a son. In 1906 Martyn was Curate at Polesworth with Dordon (Worcs.). Then in 1910 he became Rector of Quinton with Warley Woods (Worcs.) for two years, and went on to be Vicar of Tamerton Folliott in Devon.
Cecil Marytn was appointed Temporary Chaplain to the Forces on 7 September 1915 with the 101st Brigade at the Southern Command Headquarters at Tidworth. In March 1916 he went out to be the Forces Chaplain in Rouen and extended his yearly service there three times. He received special mentions in General Haig’s despatches of 13 November 1916 and 8 November 1918, on one of these occasions for “good works as Assistant to the Assistant Chaplain General at this base, and for his administration of the Chaplains work in the town area". It was in February 1919 that he caught influenza and was hospitalised at No. 8 General Hospital in Rouen; he died on 3 March. Martyn is buried in the extension of St Sever Military Cemetery at Rouen. His death reportedly deeply affected everyone at the English base.
Memorials to Cecil Martyn’s sacrifice are found at Tamerton Folliott, on a reredos dedicated to members of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department at All Saints’ Royal Garrison Church at Aldershot, and on a plaque in the chapel of Hatfield College in Durham (added in 2005).