David Martin (governor) bigraphy, stories - Admirals

David Martin (governor) : biography

15 April 1933 - 10 August 1990

Rear Admiral Sir David James Martin (15 April 193310 August 1990) was a senior officer of the Royal Australian Navy and later Governor of New South Wales.

Later life

Martin knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1988, shortly before being appointed the Governor of New South Wales. Following his appointment as Governor of New South Wales, Martin set about establishing a relationship between his office as Governor and the people of New South Wales. He soon became known as "the people's Governor".

Just three days before his death, Martin resigned as governor due to an advancing medical condition. He made arrangements for the to be established, which runs programs that help young homeless and disadvantaged Australians.

Sir David died on 10 August 1990 of pleural mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer caused by asbestos, to which he was exposed during his naval career. He engendered much respect and sympathy when seen struggling for breath during the final days of his service as Governor.

At his funeral the Premier of New South Wales, Nick Greiner, said:

His service in the Royal Australian Navy is commemorated in the Naval Chapel, Garden Island NSW. Martin married Suzanne Millea in 1957 and had three children, one of whom is a Captain in the Royal Australian Navy.

On 15 June 1988, the Queen appointed Martin a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) just before his appointment as Governor of New south Wales., KCMG, 15 June 1988 (15 June 1993), itsanhonour.gov.auCitation: Governor of New South Wales (Late gazettal).

Titles and honours



50px Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) 1988
50px Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 1985
50px Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ) 1989
50px Korea Medal
50px United Nations Service Medal for Korea
50px Defence Force Service Medal with 40 year federation star
50px National Medal with First clasp 1977,, 14 July 1977, itsanhonour.gov.au 1978, 22 February 1978, itsanhonour.gov.au


Born in Sydney on the 15 April 1933, Martin came from a long line of naval officers. He was descended from Lieutenant George Johnston, one of the 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. In 1942, when David was nine years old, his father was lost in action following the sinking of HMAS Perth of which he was Deputy Commander.

Martin attended the Scots College in Bellevue Hill from 1939–1946 before joining the RAN as a cadet midshipman and entering the Royal Australian Naval College in 1947. He also attended the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, before serving aboard HMAS Sydney during the Korean War, then aboard the aircraft carriers HMAS Vengeance and HMAS Melbourne.

He was an officer on HMS Battleaxe, participating in the Cyprus and Iceland emergencies (also known as the "Cod Wars") in 1959–1960. He was promoted to Commander of the Third Australian Destroyer Squadron in 1974 and commanded several RAN ships, including HMA Ships Queenborough, Torrens, Supply and Melbourne. Martin was promoted to flag rank in 1982 and served as Chief of Naval Personnel and as Commander of Naval Support Command until he retired in February 1988. On 26 January 1985, the Queen appointed Martin an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) "for service as the Chief of Naval Personnel and flag officer Naval Support Command"., AO, 26 January 1985, itsanhonour.gov.auCitation: For service as the Chief of Naval Personnel and flag officer Naval Support Command. AD 85.

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