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Basil James (Jim) Bryan (1882–1972)

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Basil James (Jim) Bryan (1882-1972) builders’ labourer, trade unionist, gaoled Socialist and peace activist 

Birth: 9 February 1882 at Burra, South Australia, son of Samuel Cooper Bryan, labourer, and Susanna Savery née Holland. Unmarried. Death: 13 June 1972 at Strathalbyn hospital, South Australia. 

  • In 1911 was acting secretary of the Socialist Party of South Australia and in 1914 was secretary.
  • In 1915 he was in Newcastle, New South Wales, when he was arrested for offensive behaviour.
  • An active anti-conscriptionist during World War I. Joined Industrial Workers of the World and was arrested and sentenced to 6 months gaol in Broken Hill on 3 September 1917 for being a member of an unlawful association. His gaol record describes him as having no religion, able to read and write, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 160 lbs in weight, with black hair, brown eyes and scars on his right hand and arm.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia but disapproved of its ‘revisionism’.
  • A delegate for South Australia to the federal conference of the Builders Labourers’ Federation in 1925.
  • In January 1931 was a member of the Unemployed Prisoners Relief Committee aiding those arrested in the Beef march.
  • Still active in peace movements during Vietnam era — a ‘tall kindly figure…often seen at peace demonstrations not long before his death’.
  • Cause of death: bronchopneumonia and cardiac degeneration.

Socialist Party of Australia (Sydney), August 1972, p 4; Jim Moss, Representatives of discontent; history of the Communist Party in South Australia 1921-1981 (Melbourne, 1983), and Sound of trumpets: history of the labour movement in South Australia (Adelaide, 1985).

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'Bryan, Basil James (Jim) (1882–1972)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

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