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Walter Henry Frater (1889–1959)

by Norman Jeffery

William Frater, n.d.

William Frater, n.d.

Last month Walter Frater, aged 70, a well-known veteran of the labor movement, was killed by an overturned tractor while working on his Binnaway farm.

In the early twenties when the shearers were developing widespread activity in defence and improvement of their wages and conditions, Walter Frater's interest in the labor movement and Socialism was aroused.

He joined the Communist Party in the late twenties.

Along with his mates Arthur Rae, Bob Morgan, Bob Patterson, Ted Williams, George Bellamy, "Trucker" Brown and other stalwarts, he was active in the A.W.U. Rank and File Movement for democratic and militant trade unionism.

Later, from shearing he ventured into sucessful farming and other interests.

Proof of the respect in which he was held by the local citizens was his election to the Coonabaraban Shire Council.

One incident will serve to show his courage under great difficulties.

During 1930-33, the fascist New Guard movement was rampant in N.S.W. Frat, Dave Wessel, Jack Howie and a farmer named Thompson were threatened with violence and more or less ordered to leave Binnaway. They stayed.

Their steadfastness rebuffed the local New Guard elements and thanks to the backing of the workers in the area, the fascists lost the day.

I am sure this important but almost forgotten episode will inspire Communist Party Members with a new respect for men like Frater who served the people modestly but well. They upheld the banner of solidarity and Socialism in difficult days.

Many of Walter Frater's mates are dead; others, like Ray Brown, Herb Rodley, Ted Irvine, Mat Lauder, who were active at various times with Frater, today participate in the working class movement.

Over 32 years' membership of the Party, only cut short by untimely death, will be recognised, as a proud and inspiring record.

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Citation details

Norman Jeffery, 'Frater, Walter Henry (1889–1959)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

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