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Terence Bruce (Terry) Gordon (1900–1983)

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Terence Bruce (Terry) Gordon (1900-1983) seaman, painter, trade union official and Communist

Birth: 1900 at Aberdeen, Scotland, son of James Gordon, clerk, and Mary Isabelle, née Bruce. Marriages: (1) 3 October 1934 at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Rozelle, Sydney, New South Wales, to Louisa Thelma, née O’Brien late Morton (1898-1990), a divorcee. They had one son. (2) relationship, details unknown, with Renee Sullivan. Death: 30 November 1983 at Sydney. 

  • Arrived in Australia about 1923. During 1920s began working life as seaman, including as bosun of Era and member of Seamen’s Union.
  • Became member of Painters and Dockers Union 1930. From 1944 to 1983, federal secretary, Federated Ship Painters and Dockers’ Union.
  • Member of Communist Party of Australia for forty years, house raided during World War II. Convicted under National Security Act in June 1941 with holding a meeting in the Bondi School of Arts to “advocate unlawful doctrines”
  • A Domain orator predisposed to punching hecklers. Left CPA following invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, because of CPA criticism of Soviet Union of which he was ‘staunch supporter’.
  • Longstanding member of Australian Council of Trade Unions’ ship building and repair committee and delegate to NSW Trades and Labor Council. Given to rambunctious behavior and ‘colourful language’ in terms of presenting industrial points. Regular drinker on Saturdays at ‘Billy the Pigs’ Hotel, Bondi Junction.
  • Cause of death: bony metastases and carcinoma of prostate.

Painter and Docker
, January 1984, April 1984; Seamen’s Journal, January 1984; John Playford, Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962, PhD thesis, ANU, 1962; The Socialist, 7 December 1983.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 16 July 1941, p 7
  • photo, Tribune (Sydney), 11 May 1955, p 10

Citation details

'Gordon, Terence Bruce (Terry) (1900–1983)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland


30 November, 1983 (aged ~ 83)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (bone)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Key Organisations
Political Activism