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John Clyde (Jack) Henry (1904–1976)

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John Clyde (Jack) Henry (1904-1976) canecutter, trade union official and Communist 

Birth: 7 August 1904 at Conanda, Bellingen, New South Wales, son of native-born parents James Henry (1869-1937), farmer, and Ellen Margaret, née Clarke (1869-1924). Marriage: 1941 at Grafton, NSW, to Queensland-born Jean Steel (1917-1984). Death: 8 May 1976 at Brisbane, Queensland. 

  • Grew up in Grafton, NSW.
  • Moved to Queensland in 1924. Became a canecutter in the Tully district and was an active member in the canecutters’ rank and file movement in Queensland in the 1920s.
  • Joined the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU). Was a member of the strike committee in 1935 sugar strike for better conditions, especially for safeguards against Weil’s Disease, which was not supported by the AWU.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1931 in Brisbane during a down-turn in the sugar industry and returned to the canefields in 1932. Executive member of the newly-formed North Queensland district of the CPA in 1933.
  • Contested Federal seat of Herbert for CPA in 1935 and 1938. In 1935 elected member of the Central Committee of the CPA and in 1943 also elected to political committee. Secretary of the CPA’s Queensland State Committee from 1937 to 1948. Visited Egon Kisch in Prague, Czechoslovakia, when on a Communist delegation.
  • Moved to Sydney in 1948. Member of the secretariat of the CPA from 1949 to 1954. In 1953-54 sided with Blake against Sharkey, Dixon and Hill.
  • Left CPA in mid-1950s. Became a founding member of the Socialist Party of Australia and remained a member until his death.
  • Cause of death: heart attack.

John Playford, Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962,PhD thesis, ANU, 1962, p 422; Diane Menghetti, The Red North: the popular front in North Queensland (Townsville, 1981); Jean Devanny, Point of departure; the autobiography of Jean Devanny (St Lucia, 1986); Socialist, 12 May 1976, p 3; Tribune (Sydney), 20 April, 1944, p 2, 16 February 1946,  p 8, 12 May 1976; Workers Weekly, 11 November 1938; Common Cause, 21 September 1946 p 5.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Tribune (Sydney), 20 April 1944, p 3

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Citation details

'Henry, John Clyde (Jack) (1904–1976)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

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