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William Arthur (Bill) Morcom (1901–1938)

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William Morcom, n.d.

William Morcom, n.d.

William Arthur (Bill or ‘Pop’) Morcom (1901-1938) labourer, volunteer anti-Fascist fighter killed in Spanish Civil War

Birth: 11 August 1901 at Plymouth, Devon, England, son of Fred Morcom (1870-1957?), leading stoker in the Royal Navy, later a naval pensioner, and his first wife Maud Maria, née Polmear (1872-1931). Death: 1 August 1938 at Gandesa, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. 

  • Was a ships’ wireless operator, travelling to Japan and the United States of America before returning to England in the mid 1920s. On 23 June 1927 he emigrated from London to Australia, aboard the SS Barabool, described as a wireless mechanic of Upper Downgate, near Callington, Cornwall.
  • Settled in South Australia. Became political organiser and assistant secretary of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in Adelaide during early 1930s.
  • Moved to Melbourne and later Sydney, where he lived at Darlinghurst and worked as a labourer. Became a member of the NSW State committee of the CPA and its NSW treasurer.
  • Affectionately called ‘Pop’ in his early days in the party because of his thin build, habit of smoking a pipe, and an almost paternal tolerance.
  • Joined the International Brigade as a radio operator, reaching Spain on 22 April 1938. Fought in the Spanish Civil War and was killed in action at the Battle of the Ebro.

Westralian Worker
(Perth), 13 December 1938 No. 961; Jim Moss, Sound of trumpets: history of the labour movement in South Australia (Cowandilla, 1985) p 335; John Playford, History of the left-wing of the South Australian Labor Movement, 1908-36, BA honours thesis University of Adelaide, 1958; Amirah Inglis, Australians in the Spanish Civil War (Sydney, 1987); Nettie Palmer and Len Fox, with the help of Jim McNeill and Ron Hurd, Australians in Spain (Sydney, May 1948), pp 16-17.

Additional Resources

  • profile, Workers' Weekly (Sydney), 13 December 1938, p 1

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Morcom, William Arthur (Bill) (1901–1938)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

William Morcom, n.d.

William Morcom, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


11 August, 1901
Plymouth, Devon, England


1 August, 1938 (aged 36)
Gandesa, Tarragona, Spain

Cause of Death


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.

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Key Events
Political Activism