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Frank Moncaster Milburn (1889–1968)

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Frank Moncaster [or Muncaster] Milburn (1889-1968) seaman, seamen’s agent and trade union official

Birth: 1889 at Douglas, Isle of Man, England, son of John Milburn, ironmonger, and May, née Felstead. Marriages: (1) 1915 at Melbourne, Victoria, to Vera Eta Goerner (1897-1926), born at Launceston, Tasmania. They had one daughter and two sons. (2) 1927 at Sydney, New South Wales, to Florence (Flo) Lyth (d.1958), a schoolteacher and a fellow Communist. They had one daughter who died in infancy and one son. Death: 17 September 1968 in his residence at Stagpole Street, West End, Townsville, Queensland. 

  • Served as an apprentice seaman aboard the four-masted barque Semantha from 26 November 1896 to 4 December 1910. He was later an able seaman in the steamships Pak-Ling (1911), Tropic (1911), Age (1912-13), and Time (1913).
  • Came to Australia while still young, probably about 1908. Spent a few years in Melbourne.
  • Joined Seamen’s Union of Australia (SUA) in 1911. Member of Communist Party from early 1920s.
  • Soon after the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted on 23 February 1915 in the Australian Imperial Force but re-enlisted on 16 March for service in the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, as an able seaman driver. Before the unit sailed in June, he absented himself without leave. Arrested for desertion in Melbourne in early 1916, he was sentenced to twenty-eight days’ field punishment at Seymour, on completion of which in May he was taken on the strength of the Engineer Reinforcements. Although not mentioned in his service record, there is evidence that he was discharged soon afterwards.
  • Two children were born in Sydney — in 1918 and 1921 — his first wife died there following a miscarriage in 1926, he married there in 1927 and a daughter died there in 1929.
  • Was prominent in the unemployed movement in North Queensland in the Great Depression. In electoral roll for 1931 he was living with his second wife at Magnetic Island, Queensland, and working as a rigger. Agent for SUA in Townsville from 1939 until he retired in 1961.
  • Union delegate to Trades and Labor Council, Townsville, from about 1935 to 1961.
  • Cause of death: cerebral thrombosis and arterio-sclerosis.

Seamen’s Journal
, January 1961 p 15.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Milburn, Frank Moncaster (1889–1968)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Milburn, Frank Muncaster

Douglas, Isle of Man, England


17 September, 1968 (aged ~ 79)
Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death

brain hemorrhage

Cultural Heritage

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