Service of Thanksgiving and Memorial for the life of
Rear Admiral Sir David James Martin
15 April 1933 – 10 August 1990
Eulogy Tendered by
His Worship the Mayor [Dubbo]. Alderman T A Slattery
In thanking the Reverend Father Morrison for his invitation to me to tender this eulogy today on the life of the late Rear Admiral Sir David James Martin, Knight Commander of the Order for St Michael and St George, Officer of the Order of Australia and late Governor of the State of New South Wales, I do so with great humility but also with great admiration for Sir David.
David Martin was born in Sydney on the 15 April 1933, son of Commander W H Martin and Mrs Martin. When David was nine years old his father was lost in action following the sinking of HMAS Perth of which he was Deputy Commander. David Martin came from a long line of Navy officers. He was descended from Lieutenant George Johnston, Royal Marines of the First Fleet, and the convict Esther Abrahams. Their son Robert was the first Australian born person to enlist in the Royal Navy which he joined in 1805.
Young David Martin attended the Scots college 1939-1946 before entering the Royal Australian Naval College in 1947. He attended the Royal Naval College at Greenwich near London and HMS Excellent for gunnery and guided weapons courses, and staff courses. He attended the Joint Services Staff College at Canberra in 1972 and the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1980.
He served in HMAS Sydney in Korea in 1951-1952 and then HMAS Murchison, HMAS Vengeance and HMAS Melbourne. He was gunnery office of HMS Battleaxe, participating in the Cyprus and Iceland emergencies in 1959-1960, and HMAS Voyager 1963; Executive Officer of HMAS Vampire 1967 and of the Royal Australian Naval College 1967-1968; and in command of HMAS Queenborough 1969, HMAS Torrens 1974, HMAS Supply 1978 and HMAS Melbourne 1979. He served on the staff of the Australian Naval Representative U.K. in 1963-1965 and as Commander of the Third Australian Destroyer Squadron in 1974.
He was director of Naval Reserves and Cadets in 1973 and Director General of Naval Manpower in 1981. Promoted to Flag rank in 1982 he served as Chief of Naval Personnel and as Flag Officer Commanding Naval Support Command until he retired in February 1988.
Married in 1957 to Suzanne Millear, daughter of Spencer and Sylvia Millear of Victoria. The Martins have three children: Sandy, married to Lieutenant Commander Di Pietro R.A.N – they have two daughters; Anna, married to Mr Michael Beaumont – they have two sons; and William, who is a Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy.
Since their marriage the Martins have lived in about 17 different addresses, including Adelaide, London, Portsmouth, Malta, Jervis Bay, Canberra and Sydney.
Following his appointment as Governor of New South Wales, Sir David Martin set about establishing a relationship between his office as Governor and the people of New South Wales. Early in his term he endeavoured to bring to the notice of the New South Wales community the nature of problems that face us in our community life today. He did much to support the concept that the family is the basic unit of a good community and requires all the support and assistance if the community as a whole is to be healthy and responsible to the needs of all those around us. Seeing the ills of our society, he called together a large gathering of people from throughout the State at what he called the first Prayer Breakfast of the Governor of New South Wales on Monday, 9 April 1990. In addressing that gathering and by way of introduction he said:
“I believe we can clean up this society of ours
If each of us really wants to,
If we all lift our game,
If we work together,
If we have the strength.
But we’ll need some extra strength from beyond ourselves,
And we won’t get that unless we ask it.
Who do we ask? Try asking God
How do we ask? Try praying.”
His swift decline in health and valiant struggle against the fearful lung cancer are known to us all. Notwithstanding, he was dedicated to the service of his Sovereign and the State of New South Wales to his last breath.
As a dying man he fulfilled the demands of his office to the end. He showed a remarkable faith and a dedication to duty which is an example to us all.
The Honourable Nick Greiner, Premier of New South Wales, has asked me to include the following message in my eulogy. the Premier said:
“With the sad passing last week of Sir David Martin, Australia lost one of its most distinguished citizens. After a proud career of public service with the Royal Australian Navy, Sir David made the Office of Governor of New South Wales extremely accessible.
He earned the epithet of ‘The People’s Governor’ and made his mark on Australian society in the warmest and most human way. The bravery of the man, when clearly suffering the pain of his illness, was displayed for all to see during his farewell ceremony through the streets of Sydney on August 7. It was then that he left us with the message that Australians were looking for decent standards and ethics and were reaching out for guidance and example.
Sir David called on all of us to stand up for an Australian community which is fair, healthy, happy and industrious, where children can grow in safety with hope and opportunity and fun. We have lost a wonderful man and we shall miss him. But we shall remember his message.”
I had the honour and privilege of representing the community of Dubbo at the state funeral for Sir David in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, last Thursday.
I would like to conclude this address by reading to you the great anthem which was sung by the Cathedral Choir on that tumultuous occasion.
“They that go down to the sea in ships: and occupy their business in great waters; these men see the works of the Lord: and His wonders in the deep. For at His word the stormy wind ariseth: which lifteth up the waves thereof. They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep: their soul melteth away because of the trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man: and are at their wit’s end. So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble: He delivereth them out of their distress. For he maketh the storm to cease: so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad, because they are at rest: and so He bringeth them unto the haven where they would be.”
That is where David Martin would be. that is where David Martin is.