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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

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Henry (Harry) Hatfield (1910–1988)

by Frank Bollins

Harry Hatfield, an outstanding communist of many years, passed away at the age of 77 on the morning of August 5.

Harry arrived in Australia as an immigrant aged 18. He moved to the Monaro region where he worked as a timber cutter. As many of his fellow workers were Yugoslavs, Harry picked up the basics of Serbo-Croatian.

Harry next worked in vineyards on the banks of the Georges River, near Sydney, before being trained as a sheet metal worker.

Even at a young age, Harry developed a deep compassion for working people; a compassion which led him into the ranks of the Communist Party.

Harry was later elected to the executive of the NSW branch of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, becoming its state president in 1945. In 1950 he resigned from that post to become an organiser of the Sydney District of the CPA.

He late became the District Committee secretary, a post he held for a number of years. He was also an active member of the CPA central committee. Shortly after returning from an extensive study tour in China, Harry relinquished the district secretary's position and returned to industry.

Despite his long absence from his trade and his advancing years, Harry sought a job in the most arduous area, the air-conditioning industry. He then moved to a job at Eveleigh Loco workshops, where he reinvigorated the declining shop committee movement and wrote a Communist Party booklet on the needs of the industry.

In 1963 he was elected as an organiser of the Sheet Metal Workers Union and, after amalgamation, remained an organiser of the AMWU until his retirement in 1977.

Among Harry's many fine attributes was his tremendous interest in migrant workers. He used his long service leave to spend three months in Yugoslavia, at no cost to the union. He worked there as an ordinary worker and became completely fluent in Serbo-Croatian.

Harry gave tremendous assistance and comradeship to Yugoslav workers long past his retirement.

He became a very skilled and convincing orator and his earthy sense of humor helped him establish a rapport with people.

Throughout his retirement, Harry was active in the AMWU Retired Members Association. He was also an avid, but critical, partisan of the St George Rugby League team.

Harry lived and died as he best knew how — supremely confident of the future, but realistic enough to accept setbacks and disappointments.

All who knew him will express their deepest condolences to Mary, his comrade in marriage and friend for many years, his daughter Fay, Kevin and his grandson Larry, of whom he was immeasurably proud, and Lorna, Larry's wife.

Original publication

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Citation details

Frank Bollins, 'Hatfield, Henry (Harry) (1910–1988)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


20 September, 1910
Coventry, Warwickshire, England


5 August, 1988 (aged 77)
Oatley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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.

Key Organisations
Political Activism