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Gavin Greenlees (1897–1965)

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Gavin Greenlees (1897-1965) journalist, trade union official and Communist

Birth: 23 July 1897 at Mudgee, New South Wales, son of George Greenlees (1867-1941), a police constable, later schoolteacher, born at Devon, Cape Town, South Africa, and native-born Lavinia, née Whittington (1873-1915). Marriage: 9 May 1929 at St Kilda, Victoria, to Gladys May Murray (1908-1969). They had one son. Death: 19 July 1965 in hospital at Little Bay, Sydney; usual residence Hastings Parade, Bondi Beach.

  • Commenced work as copy boy at Daily Telegraph, Melbourne.
  • Aged 17 [he put his age up six months] he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 7 May 1915. Served with the 19th Battalion at Gallipoli. Wounded in action (shell-shocked and gassed) on 31 July 1916. In hospital with influenza in March and April 1918. Returned to Australia aboard the Berrima in February 1919 and was discharged in Sydney on 16 April 1919.
  • Worked with various newspapers, principally in Sydney and Melbourne, including Daily Mirror and Gosford Times. In 1927 was appointed sub-editor at Melbourne Herald, where he worked for seventeen years.
  • In World War II he joined the Volunteer Defence Corps, was then attached to Army Press division and became editor of Guinea Gold. Also assisted in producing Australian Clothing Trades Journal. Post-war he worked with NSW newspapers, spending two years in China.
  • Had joined Communist Party of Australia in 1930s and ‘worked consistently for Australia-China friendship’.
  • Activist within the Australian Journalists’ Association. President and vice president of Victorian branch 1934-36; 1936-37 federal vice president; 1938 federal president; then treasurer for two years.
  • In NSW became vice-president and director of the Journalists’ Club. Was Building Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia Public Relations Officer and editor of Building Worker, establishing a popular children's page. Also editor of The Painter, 1958-1965.
  • Friend of Dame Mary Gilmore. His son, Gavin Greenlees (1930-1983), was a Bohemian, poet and occultist. An uncle, also Gavin Greenlees (1871-1937) was a public-school teacher and headmaster.
  • Cause of death: basilar artery thrombosis.

The Journalist
, October 1938, August 1965; The Painter, November 1965; Tribune, 28 July 1965; Australian Clothing Trades Journal, December 1945; The Journalist, August 1965.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Greenlees, Gavin (1897–1965)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 April 2024.

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