William (‘Bill’) Francis Bodkin was born on 18 October 1905 in Lithgow, New South Wales, the son of George Clifford Bodkin, navvy and union organiser, and his wife Bridget Ellen, née Callaghan. He lived at 11 Hordern Street, Newtown. His older brother was Joseph Anthony Bodkin, MLC.
Bodkin married Eileen Mildred Pearce at Annandale in 1939. They lived on Georgina Street, Newtown and had two children: a daughter named Frances Bodkin and a son named William George Bodkin, who was also an alderman on the City of Sydney Council.
He died at Newtown on 19 July 1971.
Occupation & interests
William Francis Bodkin was an industrial officer and organiser. On 12 March 1940, he enlisted in the 6th Division of the Supply Column of the Second Australian Imperial Force during World War II. He embarked for England on 4 May 1940 and saw active service in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea. He was also reprimanded several times for absence from duty without leave.
In 1945 he was admitted to Concord Military Hospital and in February 1947 was injured, suffering a fracture of his right coronoid process of the ulna. He was formally discharged in July 1947, having served seven years in the armed forces.
In February 1944 it was announced that William Francis Bodkin, at that time a gunner in the AIF serving in Papua New Guinea, was officially endorsed as the Labor candidate for the seat of Ashfield in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, contesting Athol Railton Richardson of the Democratic Party. The Australian Worker reported: ‘A son of a former Secretary of the old Railway Workers’ Industry Branch of the A.W.U [Australian Workers’ Union], the late George Bodkin, Bill saw active service in the Middle East campaign and is at present “somewhere” in New Guinea.’
The Sun quoted Bodkin as follows:
I had read in a newspaper a month old that the ALP had called for nominations for the selection ballots, and decided that I would seek endorsement for Ashfield….Some time later one of my mates said that he had heard on the wireless [radio] that a man named Bodkin had been endorsed as the Labor candidate but I did not know officially that I had been chosen until I arrived in Australia recently on leave.
I am now in my fifth year of service in the AIF….I left Australia in May 1940 and was in England for six months, after which I went to the Middle East. I was an original member of the Tobruk garrison for five months until I was invalided out, and later I was in Syria and El Alamein.
Richardson retained his seat with over 9,000 votes to Bodkin’s 8,524 votes.
Honours & awards
As part of his war service, William Francis Bodkin received the 1939-45 Star Medal, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and Australia Service Medal.
Local government service
William Francis Bodkin was an alderman on Newtown Council in 1944-48, representing the O’Connell Ward. He was deputy mayor in 1944 and mayor in 1947.
Information on the Bodkin family courtesy Joseph Bodkin.
National Archives of Australia, NAA: B883, NX10118
‘Mayoralty Won on Draw from Hat’, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December 1944, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17930538
‘Labour Candidate for Ashfield’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 1944, p. 10, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17869291
‘Labor Candidate For Ashfield Seat’, The Australian Worker, 23 February 1944, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146263672
‘Fuzzies’ Election Job’, The Sun, 3 May 1944, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231699859
‘McKell Government Returned to Power’, Leader, 29 May 1944, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article255248699
‘Mr Joseph Anthony BODKIN (1902-1950)’, Former Members, Parliament of New South Wales