People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Victor Walker (Vic) Bird (1912–1997)

This article was published:

Victor Walker ‘Vic’ Bird [also known as ‘Vin Bourke’] (1912-1997) trade unionist, Communist leader 

Birth: 19 May 1912 at Broken Hill South, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Peter Bird (1879-1941), certified engineer, winding engine driver and unionist, and Sarah Ann, née Inglis. Marriage: 17 January 1947 at the office of the Government Statist, Melbourne, to Gwladys May, late Scott, née Jones (1906-c.1990). Death: 26 September 1997 at Manning Base Hospital, Taree, NSW. 

  • His father was a member of the Australian Society of Engineers, Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, and Australian Socialist Party, Broken Hill, delegate to Broken Hill Trades Hall Council and an associate of P. Brookfield and E. A. Sinclair.
  • Vic attended school at Broken Hill. In 1921 he left Broken Hill with his family for Northern coalfields. Attended Cessnock High School, leaving at the age of 14.
  • Moved with his family to Newcastle where his father became active in Australian Labor Party politics (he was expelled in 1927 for alleging a local Labor member was corrupt). In Newcastle Vic worked as a messenger boy, then as an apprentice boilermaker at Cardiff and Broadmeadows railway workshops, joining Boilermakers’ Society.
  • 1931 he joined the Young Communist League. In 1932 he was Cardiff Workshops delegate to State Unemployed Conference, Sydney. In 1933 he was retrenched on completion of apprenticeship. With his family, he was evicted from his rented home and forced into unemployed camp. Became active as an unofficial organiser for the Communist Party of Australia, Unemployed Workers’ Movement and Militant Minority Movement, working with S. Bethune, F. S. Dodd and others.
  • In 1935 he was selected by CPA Central Committee to attend Comintern School, Moscow. Travelled with British delegation and met Tom Mann in London. On return he was elected secretary of the Newcastle branch, CPA. Continued in post until February 1940 when, in anticipation of the banning of the party, he was transferred to Melbourne.
  • Became cadre in CPA's national underground movement. Continued to work for CPA in Melbourne and as a clerk in a trades union office until his retirement in 1969. Then returned to the Newcastle district.
  • Remained a member of the CPA.

Pamphlet on the Silkworth dispute, 19??; Ross Edmonds, In Storm and Struggle. A History of the Communist Party in Newcastle 1920-1940 (1991); information from V. Bird, 1995.

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Bird, Victor Walker (Vic) (1912–1997)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012