Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Tier, Bernard John Patrick (1916–1973)

by Stuart Inder

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Bernard John Patrick Tier (1916-1973), newspaper editor, was born on 18 March 1916 at Woollahra, Sydney, third of five children of native-born parents James George Tier, clerk, and his wife Nellie, née Latimer. After completing his schooling at Christian Brothers' College, Manly, at the height of the Depression, Jack found it difficult to obtain regular employment. He picked up casual work, reporting on sport for the daily Sun, where his father was a respected clerk.

On 2 July 1940 Tier enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Within five weeks he was made acting sergeant in the 2nd/3rd Pioneer Battalion. He served in the Northern Territory before embarking for the Middle East in November 1941. His unit saw action in North Africa in 1942. Promoted acting warrant officer, class two, in September, he was mentioned in dispatches for his gallant service. The 2nd/3rd returned to Australia in February 1943 and he was posted to the 31st Infantry Training Battalion. Six ft 1 in. (185 cm) tall, a lanky, long-legged and swift-striding man with an easy grin, Tier was, and remained, the archetypal digger. While on leave in Sydney, he married with Catholic rites Kathleen Leah Clements, a typist, on 26 January 1944 at the Church of Mary Immaculate, Manly. Three months later he rejoined the 2nd/3rd and in May 1945 took part in the invasion of Tarakan Island, Borneo. He was discharged in Sydney on 9 January 1946 as an acting warrant officer, class one.

That year Tier joined the Sun as a sports writer. Following John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd's purchase of the Sun in 1953, Tier became part of a dedicated production team around Lindsay Clinch, its new executive-editor. The Sun exulted in bold and brash stories and layouts. It passed the rival Daily Mirror's circulation in 1955 and held its lead for the next decade. When Tier was named editor in August 1959, Fairfax had recently acquired the Mirror and put Clinch in editorial charge of it. Tier relished competing, successfully, against the admired chief who had shaped his style. By October 1961 Clinch was back at the Sun as executive-editor. Tier succeeded him in May 1965, but used the title of editor until his death.

An energetic, hard-working, hands-on editor, Tier had flair, cheerful enthusiasm and an easy informality that generated team spirit. He enjoyed warm support from the Fairfax board and senior executives, who gave him full control at a time when the Mirror's renewal under Rupert Murdoch was causing anxiety. The Sun remained aggressively competitive, but was less sensational and more community-oriented, and at times came close to recovering its circulation lead. Tier encouraged good relations with government and city leaders. In 1971 he initiated the Sun Sydney-to-Surf race, an annual fun run in which thousands took part.

Tier was known for his love of sailing and Rugby League football. Suffering from coronary atherosclerosis, he died of myocardial infarction on 9 November 1973 at his Turramurra home and was buried in Frenchs Forest cemetery; his wife, and their two sons and three daughters survived him. The Jack Tier marathon for sailing skiffs was named after him.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Souter, Company of Heralds (Melb, 1981)
  • Sun (Sydney), 9, 13, 14 Nov 1973
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Nov 1973
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Stuart Inder, 'Tier, Bernard John Patrick (1916–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tier-bernard-john-patrick-11860/text21233, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 25 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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