Vale Ernest Foyle (1921-2000)

It is with deep regret that we report the passing of Branch member and long-time labour and social movement activist Ernest James Foyle. Ernest died in Sydney on 6 August, 2000, aged 78. To his partner, Margaret Bettison, who is also a Branch member, The Hummer and the Branch extend sincere sympathies.

Ernest James Foyle was a long-time campaigner for social justice and environmental responsibility. Born in St. Peters, Sydney, in 1921, he attended school at Chippendale, leaving in his early teenage years in the depths of the Great Depression. Ernest eventually found work as a chicken plucker at Glazebrook & Sons, Double Bay, where he worked from 1935 until 1941. He was one of the many ‘Depression generation’ men and women who were radicalised by the social and economic crisis of the 1930s and for whom the Communist Party offered hope of a better future.

During World War Two, Ernest served with the Australian Army in the Middle East, New Guinea and Tarakan. At the war’s end he participated in the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, learning the trade of plasterer. During the Cold War he was an activist in the Plasterers Union. As a member of the Labor Party, Ernest campaigned against the Vietnam War. In later years he devoted his energies to the cause of Aboriginal rights and was actively involved in the most recent campaign for Aboriginal reconciliation. He also took a keen interest in matters environmental.

Ernest read The Hummer avidly and in 1997 (vol.2, no.8), with partner Margaret, contributed a fascinating piece on William Henry James Webb (1903-1985), electrical trades worker, fellow unionist and communist activist. Ernest James Foyle was a valued member of our Branch. He will be greatly missed.