Robert Alexander Thomas Wilson was born in India on 7 November 1861. A sailor in the merchant navy, he served on ships which made port in Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney. On 23 December 1914 he was appointed master (captain) of the captured German SS Hessen later renamed HMAT Bulla. By September 1920 he was now the captain of the SS Barambah and was highly regarded by the passengers of his ships as evidenced by the autograph gifts given to him in thanks of his kindness and hard work. His work as a captian is mentioned in Volume 9 of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, The Royal Australian Navy, 1914-1918 by Arthur W. Jose.