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Maurice Derek Lachberg (1905–1981)

This article was published:

Maurice Lachberg, sketch, 1939

Maurice Lachberg, sketch, 1939

Workers Star (Perth), 5 May 1939, p 6

Lachberg, Maurice Derek (Maurie) (1905-1981) cabinetmaker, trade union official, Communist supporter, peace activist and woodworker 

Birth: 9 September 1905 in London, England, and registered as Morris, son of Raphael Lachberg (1872-1907), master builder, and Sarah, née Stull, later Jacobs (1874-1961). Marriages: (1) 9 February 1926 at Highgate, Western Australia, to Dorothy Gene Rickey (1905-1974). They had one son. The marriage ended in divorce. (2) 30 January 1940 at Highgate, WA, to Olive Keiller (1922-2015), designer. They had two sons (one who pre-deceased him) and two daughters. Death: 29 November 1981 in hospital at Mt Lawley, Perth, WA.

  • Arrived in Western Australia in 1910 (his mother had re-married after the death of his father).
  • Grew up in Perth preferring ‘the world’ to book learning. Was a brick cleaner; labourer and farm labourer on a property at Shackleton.
  • Apprenticeship as carpenter at Roy and Gibson and later Washing Bros. Active in workplace agitation for better wages and conditions by 1930s.
  • Worked as a carpenter and joiner all over WA, including Geraldton and Kalgoorlie. Frequently dismissed for ‘trouble making’.
  • Joined Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners (ASCJ), Perth branch, in 1929. Was an adagio dancer and dancing teacher in Perth and Kalgoorlie in 1931-1932. Described as Comrade Lachberg by Communist broadsheet in 1932.
  • Member ASCJ, Perth branch, 1932-1935 and 1939-1948. Union representative on the Building Trades Association. Served on Building Workers’ Industrial Union’s (BWIU) State management committee and was the union’s first organiser. Worked for political and industrial united front and organised for 40 hour-week.
  • Worked towards retaining day labour system on Government work as Labor Party policy and 1945 Yampi Sound Award. Delegate to the Australian Labor Party and Trades and Labour Council.;
  • Founding member of Workers’ Art Guild 1934-1935. Took prominent role in many plays. Taught fencing to drama classes.
  • Prominent in peace movements in WA from 1935. Dismissed by University of WA for taking leave to welcome Egon Kisch at Fremantle. Active in resisting the servicing of Dutch Navy ships bound for East Indies (Indonesia) to crush nationalist rebellion; Active for promotion of peace in Indian Ocean, from 1960s? and to make the Indian Ocean non-nuclear. Organised Zone of Peace conference, 1979. Helped to form ‘Australia Against War and Fascism’ at WA State conference of the BWIU in about 1980. Life membership of BWIU, 1981.
  • Known in WA for his part as a leader of the Labour Day March mounted on a white horse and wearing a colourful sash.
  • Was a State executive member of the Australian Labor Party when he died, but in the 1940s had been expelled from the ALP because of his close association with the Communist Party.
  • After World War II he and his wife Olive had a furniture factory at Osborne Park, near Perth. In 1958 he was elected for the Osborne ward of Perth Road Board.
  • Active as an athlete. Participated in boxing, won swimming races at union picnics. Took particular pride in his work as carpenter, cabinetmaker and wood carver.
  • Cause of death: myocardial infarction.

Information from Olive Lachberg; Death Certificate Perth 4451/1981; Marriage certificate Perth 221/ 1926; 1101/ 471/ 1917: membership Perth 1932-1935; 1101/ 7/ 1937: membership Perth ASCJ 1939-1948; Building Worker, January 1982 pp 2-3, Socialist, 13 January 1982.

This person appears as a part of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18. [View Article]

Additional Resources

  • World War II service file, B884, W79255 (National Archives of Australia)
  • ASIO file, A6119, 1942 (National Archives of Australia)
  • photo, Daily News (Perth), 25 February 1938, p 3
  • photo, Daily News (Perth), 13 April 1955, p 2
  • profile, Good Neighbour (ACT), 1 August 1960, p 8

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Lachberg, Maurice Derek (1905–1981)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Maurice Lachberg, sketch, 1939

Maurice Lachberg, sketch, 1939

Workers Star (Perth), 5 May 1939, p 6

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Lachberg, Morris

9 September, 1905
London, Middlesex, England


29 November, 1981 (aged 76)
Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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