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Herbert Bovyll (Herb) Chandler (1904–1987)

This article was published:

Bert Chandler, n.d.

Bert Chandler, n.d.

Herbert Bovyll (Bert) Chandler (1904-1987) printer, political activist, mayor and Communist 

Birth: 24 October 1904 at West Wyalong, New South Wales, son of David Chandler, and Catherine, née Cusick. Marriage: 1929 at Young, NSW, to Mary Margaret Trudgett. They had three sons and a daughter. Death: 30 October 1987 in a nursing home at Liverpool, Sydney. 

  • Distributed Labor literature as boy in West Wyalong. Entered printing trade.
  • In 1928 campaign director for Parker Moloney for the Australian Labor Party in Hume electorate. In 1930 secretary of Young ALP directing campaigns for Clarrie Martin.
  • 1932 moved to Lithgow where became leader of unemployed, editor of Clarion, secretary of Lithgow branch of ALP and President of Macquarie ALP District Assembly. 1937 elected mayor of Lithgow.
  • Became secret member of Communist Party of Australia in the late 1930s. In 1940 contested ALP preselection for Macquarie, losing to Chifley, but remaining friendly with ‘Chif’.
  • From 1941 to 1943 was secretary of Hughes-Evans Labor Party. Member of CPA Central Committee from 1944.
  • Manager CPA Printery and CPA treasurer who ‘played the capitalist, making investments, dealing with accountants and watching the bottom line’.
  • In the 1950s placed under ‘an astounding degree of physical and telephone surveillance…every phone call to and from his office intercepted and noted’.
  • In 1953 house was raided, providing ASIO with treasure trove of CPA material and incriminating information re confidential matters from Department of External Affairs.
  • Left suddenly for Hong Kong in 1954, where intercepted. Pilloried during Petrov Royal Commission. Following CPA split, became member of Central Commission CPA (Marxist-Leninist).
  • Cause of death hypostatic pneumonia, senile dementia, prostatic hypertrophy and moderate renal failure.

John Playford Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962, PhD thesis ANU, 1962; Malcolm Henry Ellis, The Garden path (Sydney, 1949); Robert Manne, The Petrov affair: politics and espionage, (Sydney, 1987); David McKnight, Australia’s spies and their secrets (St Leonards, NSW, 1994) and Espionage and the roots of the Cold War: the conspiratorial heritage, London, 2002); photo and profile, Tribune (Sydney), 16 December 1943, p 4 []; Vanguard, 1987.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Tribune (Sydney), 16 December 1943, p 4
  • ASIO file, A6126, 151 (National Archives of Australia)
  • ASIO file, vol 7, A6119, 77/reference copy (National Archives of Australia)

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Chandler, Herbert Bovyll (Herb) (1904–1987)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

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