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Frederick Henry (Fred) Matzkows (1895–1981)

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Frederick Henry (Fred or Friedrich Heinrich)  Matzkows (1895-1981) engine-driver, railway employee, trade union official and Communist alderman

Birth: 24 November 1895 at Maryborough, Queensland, and registered as Friedrich Heinrich, son of Carl Ludwig Matzhows [sic] (1855-1934), labourer, and Johanna Dorothea, née Pioch (1857-1925). Both parents had been born at Bergensin, Lauenburg, in Pomerania, Germany. Marriage: 21 April 1924 at Maryborough, Queensland to Queensland-born Ethel Rose Sherwin (1896-1968). They had one daughter. Death: 13 February 1981 in Townsville District hospital at Townsville Queensland. 

  • Worked in sawmill at Maryborough, Qld, at age 14, about 1910. Worked as a cleaner, Railway Department at Maryborough in 1912.
  • Moved to Toowoomba in 1915, returned to Maryborough in 1916 and remained there until 1935. Occupation fireman” in 1919-1925 electoral rolls. Keen footballer with railway team at Maryborough.
  • Joined Queensland Railway Union in 1919; official on Maryborough sub-branch. Became vice-chairman, Maryborough sub-branch.
  • Represented union on Industrial Council. Played leading part in strike of 1925 and lockout of 1927. Clashed with police when addressing unemployed on behalf of Australian Railways Union (ARU) sub-branch during railwaymen’s strike, urging them not to be enticed to replace strikers in 1931.
  • Moved to Townsville as a driver in 1935. Became chairman, Northern District, and delegate to State Council. Chairman, Combined Railway Unions Committee branch, Townsville. President, Boilermakers’ Union.
  • Joined Australian Labor Party (Workers’ Political Organisation) Maryborough branch, about 1914;. Continued as an active member until the ARU withdrawal in 1926.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia in 1929 as a foundation member and first chairman of Maryborough branch. Later became secretary until 1935 and continued as an active member in Townsville until his death.
  • Elected Communist Party alderman on Townsville City Council from 1944 to 1946. At times, when addressing public meetings, he introduced himself as a unionist when being publicly introduced as a Communist was restricted.
  • Locomotive driver in 1960s and 1970s electoral rolls. Was a regular donor to Tribune newspaper. In about 1978 he donated some $2000 to Tribune when he sold his house.
  • Cause of death: pulmonary oedema, pulmonary trauma and chest injury from injuries received in a car accident.

Dianne Menghetti, Red North: the popular front in North Queensland (Townsville,, 1981) pp 125, 133, 141, 156 and 164; Advocate, 15 June 1945.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Telegraph (Brisbane), 24 November 1944, p 3
  • photo, Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 23 November 1951, p 6

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Matzkows, Frederick Henry (Fred) (1895–1981)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Matzkows, Friedrich Heinrich

24 November, 1895
Maryborough, Queensland, Australia


13 February, 1981 (aged 85)
Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death

motor vehicle accident

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