Out of Work: A VC’s Relief
In 2012 Professor Bruce Scates gave an interesting interview about ANZAC Day: http://www.abc.net.au/classic/content/2012/04/20/3480525.htm Listening it to again got me thinking about what ANZAC Day means, how it’s commemorated, and how that commemoration has evolved over time.
Prof Scates mentioned a soldier who had been awarded a Victoria Cross after Gallipoli, but returned from war a pacifist. Hugo Throssell’s VC was recommended for “most conspicuous gallantry” during operations on the Kaiajik Aghala (Hill 60) at Gallipoli. On his return to Australia, he was invited to open a war memorial but shocked the attendees by proceeding to advocate pacifism in his keynote speech. I was intrigued, having grown up in WA I’d never heard of Throssell. A quick search of Trove took me to this article about his return to WA— subtitled “Out of work, but never so pleased to lose a job in my life.” http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37605106 The journalist hoped Throssell would share his story in public…that he did in a way.
Throssell was a well-connected West Australian. He was the son of a former Premier, and married to the novelist Katharine Susannah Pritchard. A war hero, he was destined to remain in the public eye. Perhaps post-war Perth wasn’t quite ready for his message. Sadly, Throssell took his own life in 1933. Like many veterans he struggled with the physical and psychological scars of war, never really recovering.
As Prof Scates said, ANZAC day is a day of remembering. But it’s not just the ‘conspicuously brave’, or those who died on the battlefield that we should remember. It is the myriad of stories, with twists and turns like Throssell’s, that comprise the ANZAC tradition. Lest we forget.