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Flora Oliver Martin was born on 9 November 1895, at Wellington, the only daughter and younger child of Rosa Martin (whose mother was Flora Smith) and John David Martin (whose father was Aubrey), who married in 1892. Her older brother was Aubrey Clarence James Martin, born in 1893.
She was known as Flora or as Olive. Her mother was a music and dance teacher. In 1912 when she was 16 she played a piano solo at a concert “given by Mrs Martin’s pupils” 1 at the Socialist Hall 80 Manners St. Mrs Martin sang popular contralto songs and comedian Will Evans performed. The pupils performed national dances in costume and the singing class sang Gypsy and Japanese songs.
Her father gave his religion as Jewish and his occupation as Tailor, working for Schniedermann Bros in Auckland, when he enlisted in 1916. He served as a private in the Samoan Relief Force, in the New Zealand Medical Corps. The New Zealand Medical Corps (NZMC) was established in May 1908 to provide a reserve of medical personnel should that be required in the event of war. After the declaration of war in August 1914, the New Zealand government sent a battalion of infantry and a company of engineers to Samoa to capture the German radio station and a small contingent of medical staff went with them to take over the hospital at Apia. In December 1914, in consequence of the destruction of the German fleet in the Pacific, the garrison of Samoa was reduced, the original Force of Occupation returning to New Zealand. Later, a Relief Force of men over the age limit for active service was sent to replace them.