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Clarence Wilbur (Carl) Baker (1888–1967)

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This entry is from People Australia

Clarence Wilbur (Carl) Baker (1888-1967) optometrist, editor and gaoled communist 

Birth: 8 July 1888 in Hardin County, Ohio, USA. Son of Joseph Baker, farmer, and Iona, née Smith; Marriage: 28 July 1915 in Registry Office Melbourne to Edith Eveline Lucas. They had one son. Divorced: 4 July 1925 in Melbourne. Death: 12 March 1967 in Concord Repatriation Hospital, Sydney. No Religion. 

  • Enlisted in Australian Imperial Force in Melbourne on 20 July 1915. Reached rank of warrant officer. Served in France. Court-martialled 22 December 1917. Returned to Australia; was discharged as “undesirable” on 30 May 1918.
  • In Melbourne, Moses Baritz, a London socialist who spent some years in Australia, converted him to socialism. From c.1918 to 1920 Baker was a member of the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP). A foundation member of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), 1920, he then relocated from Melbourne to Sydney. He was CPA acting secretary for a time, but was said to be ‘chronically indigent’ and accused of being ‘more concerned about a meal ticket than the movement’. According to Guido Baracchi, Baker had a ‘terrible cigarette cough’. Editor of the Proletarian and Communist after 1921. Gaoled for refusal to pay fines for political crimes.
  • At the CPA’s fourth conference, Baker denounced ‘Jock’ Garden’s manoeuvering with AWU [Australian Workers’ Union] and John Bailey and subordination of communist principles, and was removed from the executive. Stole money from customers and absconded, ‘just when we needed him most’.
  • Baker left CPA in 1924-25; in 1926 was denounced by Hector Ross as part of a ‘bourgeois element’.

Malcolm Henry Ellis, The red road: the story of the capture of the Lang party by Communists, instructed from Moscow (Sydney [1932]); Davidson PhD; Stuart Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from origins to illegality (Sydney, 1998); Tribune, 10 Feb 1971; B. Walker, Solidarity Forever (Melb, 1972)

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Citation details

'Baker, Clarence Wilbur (Carl) (1888–1967)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 May 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


8 July, 1888
Hardin, Ohio, United States of America


12 March, 1967 (aged 78)
Concord, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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