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Frederick William (Fred) Watson (1904–1972)

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Frederick William Boddy (Fred) Watson (1904-1972) wharf labourer, trade union official and Communist

Birth: 4 February 1904 at West Hartlepool, Durham, England, eldest child of Frederick William Boddy (1884-1917), blacksmith’s striker and railway worker, and Ivy Corald, née Slowther (1883-1941). His uncles were militant coal miners in the Durham district. Marriage: 18 July 1940 at Port Kembla, New South Wales, to Matilda Isabel (Hilda) Lobb (1909-1982), born at West Ham, Essex, England. They had three sons. Death: 10 December 1972 in his usual residence at Fairy Meadow, Wollongong, NSW. 

  • His father was killed in action in Belgium in October 1917.
  • Fred served in British Army post World War I, was sent to Constantinople, Turkey, where he embarked for Australia in 1924.
  • He worked as an itinerant bushworker in the Australian outback before finding his way to the Illawarra district, NSW. Leader of Unemployed Workers’ Movement in Wollongong during the Great Depression.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1930 and was prominent in CPA in district for forty years. Pledged solidarity of unemployed group during Dalfram dispute in 1938.
  • Despite being blacklisted he acquired job at steelworks and waterfront under assumed names.
  • Permanent member of Waterside Workers Federation in 1939; elected secretary Wollongong branch in 1958; and held executive position in union for thirty-one years. At time of death he was longest serving member and senior vice president of South Coast Labour Council.
  • Prominent supporter of Aboriginal rights in 1930s and anti-colonial rights of Indonesian workers post World War II.
  • Cause of death: coronary occlusion and atheroma of coronary arteries.

Maritime Worker
, 6 February 1973; Tribune, 16-22 January 1973.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Tribune (Sydney), 26 November 1969, p 12
  • funeral, Tribune (Sydney), 16 January 1973, p 4

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Watson, Frederick William (Fred) (1904–1972)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Fred Watson, 1969

Fred Watson, 1969

Tribune (Sydney), 26 November 1969, p 12

Life Summary [details]


4 February, 1904
Hartlepool, Durham, England


10 December, 1972 (aged 68)
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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