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William Joseph (Bill) Thomas (1896–1958)

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This entry is from People Australia

William Joseph (Bill) Thomas (1896-1958) journalist and Communist 

Birth: 1896 at Watson’s Bay, Sydney, son of native-born parents William Joseph Thomas (1871-1939), engineer, and Florence Elizabeth, née Kennedy (1870-1967). Marriage: 12 March 1926 at St Barnabas Anglican Church, Sydney, to native-born Gladys Catherine Fitzpatrick, a telephonist. They had one daughter and one son. Death: 22 September 1958 at Newport, Sydney. Religion: Anglican burial service, interred in family grave at the Catholic cemetery, South Head, Sydney. 

  • Australian Socialist Party (ASP) representative from Queensland at 1920 conference that formed Communist Party of Australia (CPA). Expelled from ASP because of his ‘anti-communist propaganda and opportunistic activities’, probably in 1921. Later readmitted.
  • Well known for lantern-side lectures on venereal disease.
  • Member CPA from 1923.
  • Editor, International Socialist and Queensland Communist in Brisbane.
  • Appears to have moved to New South Wales by 1923. Alleged that the State’s Nationalist Minister for Mines tried to bribe him that year if he would advocate violence and implicate the Communist and Labor parties in his activity.
  • During 1930s was national organiser of Friends of the Soviet Union. Editor of Soviets To-day. Member, Left Book Member, Russian Medical Aid. Leader of the delegation to the Soviet Union in 1936. Interviewed Madame Krupskaye, Lenin’s widow.
  • An ‘able, fluent and inspiring speaker, who could impress listeners’. Worked for QANTAS in Sydney, sent to Darwin 1951-52 before being dismissed and returned to Sydney. Suspected by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation of publishing two articles in Northern Standard describing adverse working conditions in QANTAS.
  • Cause of death: cerebral haemorrhage and hypertension.

M. H. Ellis, The Garden Path, Land Newspaper, Sydney, 1949;1949; Stuart Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality, (Sydney, 1998); National Archives of Australia, ASIO file, Series A6119, Item 2397; Northern Standard, 22 February 1952, p 1; James Normington Rawling, ‘Communists Come to Australia’, J. Normington-Rawling Collection, Noel Butlin Archives Centre, N57/1, ANU; Beris Penrose, ‘Herbert Moxon, a Victim of the Bolshevisation of the Communist Party’, Labour History, no 70, May,1996, pp 92-114; Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), 16 May 1936, p 10.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Thomas, William Joseph (Bill) (1896–1958)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Watsons Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


22 September, 1958 (aged ~ 62)
Newport, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

brain hemorrhage

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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism