30 AUG 1915: World War I and 2nd Lieutenant (later Captain) Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell, 10th Light Horse Regiment, originally from Northam, Western Australia, earns the Victoria Cross at Hill 60, Gallipoli. Hugo Throssell was born in Northam, Western Australia on 26 October 1884, the son of former Premier of Western Australia George Throssell.
In 1914, he joined the 10th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force. His brother, Frank Erick Cottrell Throssell, known as Ric, also served in the war and died near Gaza. Hugo Throssell’s son Ric Throssell was named after him.
As a second lieutenant Hugo Throssell fought at Gallipoli, where he had landed on 4 August.
He saw action in the desperate Battle of the Nek. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography: “This experience increased his eagerness to prove himself in battle.
He wanted to avenge the 10th L.H.R. which, like so many of the Anzac troops, was battle-worn, sick and depleted.
His chance came later that month at Hill 60 during a postponed attempt by British and Anzac troops to widen the strip of foreshore between the two bridgeheads at Anzac and Suvla by capturing the hills near Anafarta.
Hill 60, a low knoll, lay about half a mile (0.8 km) from the beach. Hampered by confusion and lack of communication between the various flanks, the battle had been raging for a week with heavy losses.”
A few weeks later, he fought at Hill 60: “On 29–30 August 1915 at Kaiakij Aghala (Hill 60), Gallipoli, Turkey, Second Lieutenant Throssell, although severely wounded in several places, refused to leave his post during a counter-attack or to obtain medical assistance until all danger was passed, when he had his wounds dressed and returned to the firing line until ordered out of action by the Medical Officer. By his personal courage and example he kept up the spirits of his party and was largely instrumental in saving the situation at a critical period.”
His citation reads; “For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during operations on the Kaiakij Aghala (Hill 60) in the Gallipoli Peninsula on 29th and 30th August 1915. Although severely wounded in several places during a counter-attack, he refused to leave his post or to obtain medical assistance till all danger was passed, when he had his wounds dressed and returned to the firing-line until ordered out of action by the Medical Officer. By his personal courage and example he kept up the spirits of his party, and was largely instrumental in saving the situation at a critical period.”
Whilst recuperating from his wounds in London he was introduced to Katharine Susannah Prichard, who later became a famous Australian author and socialist.
He eventually returned to active service, rejoining the 10th Light Horse in the Middle East where he fought in a number of engagements, and achieved the rank of captain.
He returned home in 1918 and in 1919 married Prichard. In the following years Hugo was an outspoken opponent of war, and claimed that the suffering he had seen had made him a socialist.
His stance on the futility of war outraged many people, especially as they were coming from a national war hero and the son of a respected and conservative former premier.
His very public political opinions badly damaged his employment prospects, and he fell deeply into financial debt. On 19 November 1933, he killed himself (while his wife was away on a trip to the Soviet Union).
Hugo Throssell’s Victoria Cross is displayed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In 1983 his son Ric Throssell presented it to People for Nuclear Disarmament.
The Returned Services League of Australia bought the medal and presented it to the Australian War Memorial. Like his father, Ric Throssell also suicided, in 1999, on the day his wife Dodie died after a long illness.
The Hugo Throssell ward at the former Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood was named in his honour. More; http://ow.ly/RwTWQ