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James Denis (Jim) Dinan (1895–1965)

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This entry is from People Australia

Dinan, James Denis (Jim) alias Norman (1895-1965) farmer, shipping clerk and Communist activist 

Birth: 15 January 1895 at Port Melbourne, Victoria, son of native-born parents Denis Dinan (1856-1941), hotelier, later farmer, of Irish ancestry, and Charlotte Elizabeth, née Rogers (1860-1950). Marriage: 5 May 1939 at Perth, Western Australia, to Olga Beryl Thompson (1917-1985). They had one son. Death: 6 April 1965 at South Yarra in Melbourne, Victoria. Religion: nominal Catholic. 

  • Served for twelve months in the Australian Light Horse Regiment about 1913.
  • Was a mechanic living at Benalla, Victoria, when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Bendigo on 4 January 1915 and gave his religious denomination as Catholic. He embarked for overseas service in May that year, was posted to the 4th Australian Light Horse then to the 1st Anzac Australian Cycling Battalion. Served at Gallipoli and in France. Reportedly he lost the sight of his left eye. He returned to Australia in June 1919 and was discharged in Melbourne on 22 August.
  • Was a commercial traveller in Victoria in 1931. Later became a radical farmer at Kellerberrin, Western Australia, and a useful footballer. A member of the Australian Labor Party and the Wheat and Wool Growers’ Union, he was active in wheat strike in 1939. Stood as ALP candidate in elections for federal seat of Swan in September and again at a by-election in 1940.
  • He opposed, and was thwarted by, Frank Chamberlain and others in the dominant ALP faction. Example of surprising connection between left-wing farmers and labour/Labor in WA. Expelled from the ALP, he supported the State Labor Party in New South Wales elections in May 1941. He contested the by-election as Independent Labor candidate for Yilgarn-Coolgardie in the WA Legislative Assembly in August 1941.
  • Returned to Melbourne. Described as a machinist, at South Yarra, in 1943, and as an organiser in later electoral rolls. Was named as a member of the Communist Party of Australia in the Royal Commission into Communism in 1949-1950.
  • In 1955 he and his wife and son travelled to the United Kingdom and after attending the Helsinki peace assembly he spent a month in the Soviet Union, moved on to China “on an Australian trade mission” and returned to Australia via Hong Kong.
  • ASIO documents give his party name as “Norman”. Employed by H. V. McKay at Sunshine he was elected secretary of the Returned Soldiers Sailors and Nurses section of the League against Imperialism and was also a member of the Imperialism committee. He was treasurer of the World Congress of Mothers, International committee and Melbourne Assembly in 1956.
  • Was shipping section organiser of the Clerks’ Union in 1959 when he was elected secretary of the shipping section of the union.
  • Wife also participated in Communist front activities in the 1960s.

Information from Vic Williams, 1991; death notice, Age (Melbourne), 7 April 1965.

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Citation details

'Dinan, James Denis (Jim) (1895–1965)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

James Dinan, 1941

James Dinan, 1941

Wheatbelt Tribune (Wyalkatchem, WA), 1 August 1941, p 2

Life Summary [details]


15 January, 1895
Port Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


6 April, 1965 (aged 70)
South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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