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Martin, Eric Walwyn Ormsby (1900–1973)

by John Ramsland

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Eric Walwyn Ormsby Martin (1900-1973), solicitor and mayor, was born on 22 April 1900 at Taree, Manning River, New South Wales, eldest of eight children of Lewis Ormsby Martin, a Victorian-born solicitor, and his Queensland-born wife Lucy Danvers, née Maund. Eric grew up in a community-spirited family dedicated to learning, public service and conservative politics. He was educated at Taree District School, The King's School, Parramatta, and St Paul's College, University of Sydney (B.A., 1922; LL.B., 1925). Admitted to practice as a solicitor on 28 August 1925, he returned to Taree and joined his father's firm, which became L. O. Martin & Sons when his brother Lewis joined it in 1936. In December 1937 Eric was elected to Taree Municipal Council. He belonged to the local sailing club and played district cricket for many years.

An Empire man and a patriot, Martin enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 10 October 1939. He sailed for the Middle East with the 2nd/2nd Battalion in January 1940 and was posted to the Military Hostel, Jerusalem. In January 1941 he was sent to A.I.F. Headquarters and made sergeant. He transferred to the Royal Air Force as a pilot officer in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch on 3 March that year in Cairo. Promoted flying officer twelve months later, he served in Egypt, Palestine and (from November 1944) England. He returned to Sydney in May 1946.

After resuming his practice at Taree, Martin re-entered local politics in 1950. A man of wide public interests, he had deep roots in the local community, especially in terms of his legal work for the dairy industry. He had two terms as mayor (1951-52 and 1956-65) and also served (1950-65) on the Manning River County Council. 'At all times he was a thorough gentleman' who abided 'by the wishes of the majority' throughout his public life. During his second term as mayor, new council chambers—resembling a 'magnificent, solid Peerless butter box'—were opened. He sat on the Taree-Wingham Water Board, and was sometime chairman of the Oxley Regional Development and the Manning-Forster Tourist committees. Gifted with 'foresight' and 'the highest principles', he retired from the municipal council in 1965 and was appointed C.B.E. in 1967.

Martin was president of the Taree Literary Institute, the Manning River District Cricket Association and the Manning River Aquatic Association; he was also a founder of the Manning River Aero Club. In Sydney he belonged to the Royal Sydney Golf, University and United Services clubs. He died on 14 January 1973 at the family home, Ormsby House, Manning Street, and was cremated with Anglican rites. Martin had never married. As a son he had only left home to complete his education and to serve in World War II.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Ramsland, The Struggle Against Isolation (Syd, 1987)
  • Manning River Times, 16, 17 Jan 1973.

Citation details

John Ramsland, 'Martin, Eric Walwyn Ormsby (1900–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 29 March 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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