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Henry (Harry) Booley (1893–1985)

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Henry ‘Harry’ Booley (1893-1985) railway employee, trade union leader and Communist 

Birth: 21 September 1893 at Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, son of native-born parents George Booley, gardener, and Maria, née Thornton. Marriage: 1919 in Hawthorn, Melbourne, to Jessie Chrystal. They had one daughter. Death: 19 December 1985 at South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria. Religion: nominally Anglican. 

  • A farmer at Woomelang, Victoria, and gave his religion as Anglican when he enlisted in Australian Imperial Force on 7 October 1914. Embarked for active service overseas on 8 February 1915, but returned medically unfit in August.
  • Re-embarked with 5th Battalion on 28 July 1916. Served in France and as a linesman near Foucaucourt, was overcome by gas on 23 August 1918. For his continuous patrolling and disregard for personal safety in this action he won the Military Medal. He was discharged in Melbourne, medically unfit, on 9 March 1919.
  • Joined Victorian Railways at Newport workshops. In 1920 received first union (Australian Railways Union) position, as secretary of saw mill section. Continued to hold some union office until his retirement in 1958. Was ARU State branch councillor, president and organiser 1953-58.
  • In 1950s was expelled from union for two years by Industrial Groups faction.
  • Helped produce Shop Committee News.
  • Executive member of State Superannuation Anomalies Commission.
  • Represented Ballarat Trades and Labor Council on Melbourne Trades Hall Council for 15 years. ARU representative on Australian Council of Trade Unions for eight years.
  • Member Communist Party of Australia. Earned respect of  Ted Hill who spoke at his retirement function. Remained a supporter of ‘the socialist countries, especially China’.

ARU Gazette
, May 1986; The Railways Union Gazette, Nov 1958.

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Citation details

'Booley, Henry (Harry) (1893–1985)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


21 September, 1893
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


19 December, 1985 (aged 92)
Caulfield, 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.

Military Service
Key Organisations
Political Activism