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Munro, Edward Joy (1882–1950)

by Matthew Dicker

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Edward Joy Munro (1882-1950), soldier and political party administrator, was born on 1 March 1882 at Scone, New South Wales, second surviving son of Arthur William Munro, sexton, and his wife Marianne, née Easterbrook, both Sydney born. Educated at Glen Innes Superior Public School and privately, he joined the New South Wales Railways where he remained until the outbreak of World War I, thereby obtaining 'an intimate knowledge of most of the country districts of the State'. On 16 September 1911 he married Irene Frances Johnson at St Matthew's Anglican Church, Manly.

Munro had begun his military career in 1899 as a driver in the militia. He was commissioned in 1908 and later commanded the 6th Army Service Corps. On 17 August 1914 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was appointed as a lieutenant in the 1st Australian Divisional Train. Promoted captain in September, he sailed for Egypt in December. He served briefly at Gallipoli before returning to transport duties in Egypt. From December 1915 until March 1916 he was engaged in the Senussi campaign. Promoted major before embarking for France, from April 1916 to July 1918 Munro was engaged in transport work on all fronts in France and Belgium occupied by the 1st Division. In August 1918 he took command of the Australian Army Service Corps Training Depot in England. He had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1917 and was also mentioned in dispatches. After the Armistice Munro was attached to the staff of Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash in London for a year as staff officer of rail transport.

Returning to Australia late in 1919, Munro retired from the railways in 1922 and established a general agency business. In 1925 he led the Ormildah Oil Development Co. Ltd expedition some 400 miles (644 km) up the Sepik River, Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Promoted lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Military Forces in 1920, Munro held various commands in the A.A.S.C. until 1934. He was returned to the active list in 1940 and commanded the A.A.S.C., 1st Division. He retired with the rank of colonel in 1941.

Munro was appointed general secretary of the Australian Country Party, and New South Wales secretary, in February 1927 and retired from those positions in June 1948. Described as a rather flamboyant personality whose plans were inclined to be grandiose and incapable of realization, Munro was 'something of a jack-of-all-trades. He was a superb organizer, an efficient campaign director, and a trained accountant, who accustomed himself to travelling long distances each year to keep in touch with party stalwarts all over the state'. Early in his appointment Munro rapidly built up branches of the Country Party. In 1933-34 he gave extensive evidence in favour of possible new States to the Commonwealth royal commissioner H. S. Nicholas.

Although never seeking to displace politicians from the public spotlight, Munro spoke for the Country Party on a variety of issues. He successfully built up its head office 'as the linch-pin of the party's organisation, with himself as the essential link between the Central Council and the local organisation'.

Munro became an associate of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries (England) in 1934. Active in Legacy (president of the Legacy Club of Sydney in 1944-45) and with the War Veterans' homes, he also took an interest in scouting and was commissioner for the City of Sydney district Boy Scouts' Association in 1940. A member of the Imperial Service Club, he enjoyed rifle-shooting, surfing and gardening.

Survived by his wife and son, Munro died of coronary occlusion on 27 August 1950 at Manly and was cremated after an Anglican service. In making public tributes (Sir) Arthur Fadden and (Sir) Michael Bruxner described him as 'one of our most distinguished and loyal citizens'.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Aitkin, The Country Party in New South Wales (Canb, 1972)
  • London Gazette, 1 June 1917
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June 1917, 11 Feb 1927, 28 Aug 1950
  • records (Australian War Memorial).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Matthew Dicker, 'Munro, Edward Joy (1882–1950)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/munro-edward-joy-7685/text13449, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 19 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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