Robert was born in Stevenston, Ayrshire, the second son of James Martin and Maggie Conway both previously of Bangor, County Down.
Robert travelled extensively, both prior to and after his marriage. He travelled to Canada in 1932 and we understand travelled extensively while he was there. In 1937 he joined the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War and was taken prisoner after the ship on which he was travelling was sunk. The following appeared in the Glasgow newspaper "Evening News" dated 5 August, 1937:
"BELLSHILL GIRL IN SPAIN - REPORTED RELEASE FROM PRISON
A report announcing the release of Ethel McDonald, a Bellshill woman, said to have been imprisoned in Barcelona, was received by her parents, Mr and Mrs McDonald, last night. The story of Miss McDonald's release was given by Robert Martin, of Glencairn Street, Stevenston, Ayrshire, who out to join the International Brigade on May 30. The ship on which martin crossed to Spaid is said to have been torpedoed, and he himself taken to Barcelona and imprisoned there. According to Martin, Miss McDonald was kept in prison for four days, and then released."
Robert has been identified on a vessel departing Jamaica back to London just a few months prior to his marriage in 1938.
Following their marriage, Robert and Helen lived with Robert's family at "Seaview" in Stevenston until the family moved to Kilwinning Rd in the 1940's and later Robert and Helen had their own home at 6 Ashgrove Ave, Stevenston.
Robert migrated to Australia in 1950 on the "Cheshire" which arrived in Sydney on the 21 August. The "Cheshire" had sailed from Liverpool via Freemantle and Melbourne. Robert gave his address in Sydney as 2 Gap Road, Watson's Bay although at this time, it is not known who he was living with at this address. On his application for assisted passage, Robert indicated that he had a second cousin, the Reverend William Cowan, living at The Manse in Killarney in Queensland. He also indicated on his application that he had previously visited Perth, Western Australia in 1946 on holiday.
He resided in Ontario, Canada between 1934 and 1936 and was working in Persia for the ICI from 1944 to 1945.
Although Robert bought a house in Zetland, Sydney, according to his application for assisted passage, it would appear that he had intended to settle in Queensland. Once settled, Robert sent for Helen and the children, however, as Helen was by then expecting their fourth child, Robert, they had to wait until after his birth before sailing in 1951 on board the "Ormandie" arriving in Sydney on 19 July.
Robert and Helen lived at 219 Elizabeth St, Zetland an inner city suburb of Sydney. They rented rooms out to another family whom Helen had met on the voyage out to Australia. Later when Robert's brother Jim migrated he and his family also lived with Robert and Helen at their Zetland home.
After several years in Australia, Helen and the children returned to Scotland in 1955 on the "Seven Seas". Robert followed shortly after staying on to sell the family home. However, upon returning to Scotland, they decided to make their home permanently in Australia and returned in the same year. Robert and June travelled a few months earlier on the "Strathnaver" and Helen, Carol, Irene and Bob on the "Strathaird". When Robert and Helen returned to Scotland in 1955, they lived with Helen's mother and aunt, at Kirkgate in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.
When the family returned to Australia in 1955 they lived at 15 Lillian St, Berala where their daughter Carol met her future husband, Colin Hails whose family also resided at Berala. Robert and Helen lost all their money in a land swindle in 1957.
In 1958 they moved to 479a Housing Settlement, Riverwood prior to purchasing their own home at 19 Lamb Cres, Merrylands in 1962. Their sons, Robert and Richard now own and reside in this house.
Robert died of a heart attack at Merrylands Railway Station on his way to work just two days after his 63rd birthday and was cremated at Rookwood Crematorium. His daughter, June Bancroft wrote the following poem in memory of her father:
"Some people come into this world And one day quietly pass away We wouldn't even know they're here So insignificant are they. My father he was different A cheery noisy man And if you didn't like him He didn't give a dam. He lived life to the fullest He'd been most everywhere Just name a foreign country He's sure to have been there. A rebel to society Yet he loved his fellow man To anyone who needed him He'd lend a helping hand. He dearly loved to argue And he would always win For no matter what we had to say We couldn't out talk him. He loved to sing and tell a joke Speak to strangers in the street I feel real sorry for Those folks he didn't get to meet. So I write this poem And for what it's worth I am proud to say, my father Left his stamp upon this earth. And if there is a heaven I see him large as life and full of fun Telling God and all the Angels Just how things should be done."
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