Hugo (Jim) Throssell

Full name:
Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell, VC


Prince Alfred College, Kent Town, South Australia


Highest rank:
Decorations/ commendations:
Victoria Cross (VC), Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
Australian Imperial Force
World War I 1914-1918
Military event:
Battle of Hill 60 1915, Battle of the Nek, Second Battle of Gaza
10th Light Horse Regiment, AIF

Second Lieutenant Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for bravery at Hill 60. He became the only light horseman to be honoured with a VC. In heavy action, he fought on despite receiving numerous wounds. Even after his wounds were dressed, he continued to fight, inspiring all those around him.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during operations on the Kaiakij Aghala (Hill 60) in the Gallipoli Peninsular on 29 and 30 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.

[London Gazette 15 October 1915 (Issue: 29328 Page: 10154.) The Gazette Official Public Record (est 1665)]

Born in Northam, Western Australia, on 26 October 1884, Hugo was known as 'Jim' to family and friends. He was the youngest son of 14 children. His parents were George Throssell, an Irish immigrant storekeeper eventually elected state premier, and his wife Anne Morrell of Northam.

Jim attended Northam State School and then Prince Alfred College in Adelaide. As 'the crack footballer of the district', he was captain of Northam's Federal Football Club (Australian football). He was also a champion jumper, runner and boxer. After school, he worked for his brother George in Northam and then as a jackeroo at the Hancock family's Ashburton Downs Station in the Pilbara.

In 1912, Jim and his brother, Frank Erick Cottrell (Ric) Throssell, took up land at Cowcowing in the Western Australian wheatbelt. They had a strong bond and were later described as 'David and Jonathan' from the Old Testament in their devotion to one another.

With the outbreak of World War I, Jim and Ric both joined the Australian Imperial Force, under the 10th Light Horse Regiment. On 4 August, Jim landed on Gallipoli, only 3 days before the charge at the Nek, 'that FOOL charge' as he later described it.

The Nek was the site of a brave but tragic assault. Within 45 minutes, three waves of Australian light horseman and part of a fourth wave were cut down. Jim was one of the leaders of the fourth and last line of attacking troops. They were recalled after only having advanced a few metres. Nine officers and 73 men of Jim's regiment were killed within minutes.

After this experience, he wanted to avenge the his fallen comrades. Like so many of the Anzac troops, his unit was battle-worn, sick and depleted. However, Jim's chance came later that month at Hill 60.

Battle for Hill 60

Hill 60 was a low rise in the foothills on the north-western end of Anzac. The fight for Hill 60 was part of the August Offensive, the last major Allied offensive operation on the peninsula. The operation was planned to strengthen a narrow strip of foreshore that connected British forces at Suvla with the Anzac positions further south. Poor planning, confusion and a lack of communication between units contributed to heavy losses in the first week of attacks.

Despite the failures of the first assault, at 1 am on 29 August, the 10th Light Horse was brought into action. Jim's unit was ordered to take a long trench held by Turkish troops. Within minutes, they had bombed and fought their way into a sizable chunk of the trench. Jim killed 5 Turkish soldiers while his men constructed a barricade across their side of the trench to hold the Turkish soldiers back from advancing.

A fierce counterattack soon began. Jim and his fellow soldiers strategically held their bombs on short fuse until the last possible moment before hurling them at the enemy on the other side of the barricade.

Throughout the remainder of the night, both sides threw more than 3,000 bombs. Corporal Sutton Ferrier was credited with having flung nearly 500 bombs that night. Jim later recommended Ferrier and 4 other corporals for gallantry awards.

Whenever a Turkish bomb landed in the trench these men immediately picked it up and threw it out again, frequently succeeding in lobbing it back among the Turks. I saw this act, not once, but a dozen times …

[Hugo Throssell, quoted in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, 1995, p 223]

The Turks made 3 attacks on the Australian trench. During the last attacks, many of the original 160 men had either died or retired as wounded. While in sole command, Jim was wounded twice, in the shoulder and neck. His face covered in blood from bomb splinters in his forehead, he continued to yell encouragement to his men:

Then they crawled out of the trenches and came straight at us. In the dim light we could see them against the skyline. I passed the word to our fellows, and when the first Turks got within ten yards we cheered and shouted, and, standing up in the trenches, started firing as fast as we could. There was no thought of cover. We just blazed away until the rifles grew red-hot … and then we picked up the rifles the wounded or killed men had left.

[Hugo Throssell, quoted in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, 1995, p 224]

As dawn broke, a machine gun arrived in the Australian line and, in Jim's words, ‘It settled the Turk’s third and final charge – and the trench was ours’.

Five men wearing army uniforms peering out of a hole dug into the earth and covered with sandbags.

Members of the 10th Light Horse Regiment at Walker's Ridge, Gallipoli, Turkey, Ottoman Empire, August 2015. In the foreground are unclaimed kits of 7 officers who were killed in the charge of the 10th Light Horse. The 'Officers' Mess' is visible in the right-hand corner, made from sandbags on top of galvanised iron sheets. Photograph from the Collection of H.H.V. Throssell, V.C. AWM P00516.005

Badly injured and now receiving treatment for his wounds, Captain Horace Robertson wrote, Jim looked spent and exhausted:

He wore no jacket, but had badges on the shoulder-straps of his shirt. The shirt was full of holes from pieces of bomb, and one of the ‘Australias’ [shoulder badge with the word Australia] was twisted and broken, and had been driven into his shoulder.

[Robertson, quoted in Lionel Wigmore in collaboration with Bruce Harding, They Dared Mightily, Canberra, 1963, p 50]

Jim was awarded the VC for his part in the battle. It was the first VC to be won by a Western Australian in the war and remains the only one awarded to a Light Horseman.

Evacuated to hospital in England, Jim was promoted to captain and rejoined his regiment in Egypt.

A man lying in a hospital bed with a tray of food and drink. A man in uniform sat next to him holding leaflets of paper.
Lieutenant Hugo Vivien Hope 'Jim' Throssell VC at Wandsworth Hospital recovering from wounds received at Gallipoli, London, October 1915. Jim's brother Sergeant Frank Eric 'Ric' Throssell is on the left. AWM P00516.004

Last days on the battlefront

Jim was wounded again in April 1917 at the Second Battle of Gaza.

Jim's brother Ric was killed in action during the same battle on 19 April 1917. That same night, Jim crawled across the battlefield under enemy fire, searching in vain for his brother among the dead and dying, and whistling for him with the same signal as they had used as young boys.

Jim returned to his regiment for the final offensives in Palestine and led the 10th Light Horse guard of honour at the fall of Jerusalem.

He was discharged on 13 February 1919 and returned to Western Australia.

Life after war

While recovering in England, Jim met Fijian-born nurse and writer Katharine Susannah Prichard. They married in Melbourne on 28 January 1919 and settled on a large farm at Greenmount, near Perth.

Katherine wrote that those early years of marriage with Jim were her happiest. They had a son Ric Throssell, who became a diplomat and writer.

When Katharine became a foundation member of the Communist Party of Australia in 1920, Jim joined her as a speaker. He passionately supported the unemployed and striking workers. The combination of her award-winning novels and political stance, along with his VC, brought them fame.

Jim continued to advocate for soldiers' benefits as a representative on the Returned Soldiers' Land Settlement Board. He also worked as a real estate agent and, temporarily, for the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia.

Three men wearing hats, suits, ties and war service medals pose for a photograph in front of a crowd.

Hugo (Jim) Throssell VC, James Woods VC and Thomas (Jack) Axford VC photographed on Anzac Day, Perth Esplanade, Western Australia, 1928. State Library of Western Australia 047700PD. The 3 men had led an assembly of troops past the Governor of Western Australia at the end of the commemoration ceremony attended by some 10,000 people.

The Great Depression brought financial stress. Failed business ventures, along with his wartime experiences and depression, possibly led to his suicide on 19 November 1933. He had previously stated, 'I have never recovered from my 1914-1918 experiences'.

Jim was buried with full military honours in the Anglican section of Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.

In 1954 a memorial to Jim was unveiled at Greenmount, opposite his home. More recently, on Anzac Day 2015, the Captain Hugo Throssell V.C. statue was unveiled in Northam.

In 2008, Jim's granddaughter, Karen Throssell, was an Australian Peace Ambassador. Reflecting on the meaning of Anzac Day and her grandfather's legacy, Karen said:

I think my grandfather would have been very proud of me for making this journey to Turkey as a missioner for peace … Our family has always seen his legacy as a cry for peace, traditionally shunning our Anzac Day celebrations as a day we felt was often used to glorify war rather than to remember its horrors.

My brief visit as a Peace Ambassador has left me feeling that I should break with our family tradition and acknowledge Anzac Day, acknowledge it as our Peace Day – a day to remember what happened not just to our own loved ones but to remind us of what should never happen again.

A pencil portrait of Jim by the Australian war artist, George Lambert, along with his VC medal is held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Side-view of a clean-shaven man in military uniform wearing a felt hat with a feathered plume

Portrait of Captain Hugo Vivian Hope Throssel, VC, 1st Australian Imperial Force, 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment. Pencil on paper by George Lambert, Egypt, 1918. AWM ART02797


1906 'EASTERN DISTRICTS NOTES.', Sporting Life : Dryblower's Journal (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1905 - 1906), 9 June, p. 2. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1915 'A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.', Toodyay Herald (WA : 1912 - 1954), 23 October, p. 4. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1915 'A NORTHAM HERO', The Northam Advertiser (WA : 1895 - 1955), 20 October, p. 3. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1915 '"JIM" THROSSELL, V.C.', The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1955), 21 October, p. 4. (THIRD EDITION), viewed 05 May 2023,

1916 'HUGO THROSSELL V.C.', Northam Courier (WA : 1909 - 1922), 11 April, p. 2. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1916 'LIEUT. HUGO THROSSELL, V.C.', Northam Courier (WA : 1909 - 1922), 28 April, p. 3. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1916 'HUGO THROSSELL V.C.', The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1955), 26 April, p. 6. (THIRD EDITION), viewed 05 May 2023,

1916 'Local and Personal', The W.A. Record (Perth, WA : 1888 - 1922), 11 March, p. 11. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1917 'LETTER FROM HUGO THROSSELL.', The Moora Herald and Midland Districts Advocate (WA : 1914 - 1930), 18 May, p. 3. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1917 'LETTER FROM LIEUT. HUGO THROSSELL.', The Eastern Recorder (Kellerberrin, WA : 1909 - 1954), 25 May, p. 3. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1928 'COMMEMORATION IN PERTH', Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 - 1954), 26 April, p. 4. , viewed 08 May 2023,

1928 'HUGO THROSSELL, V.C.', The Swan Express (Midland Junction, WA : 1900 - 1954), 10 February, p. 4. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1933 'Capt Hugo Throssell, V.C.', Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), 30 November, p. 2. , viewed 05 May 2023,

1933 'MRS. HUGO THROSSELL RETURNS', The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1955), 26 December, p. 1. (LAST RACE), viewed 05 May 2023,

1942 'ARMY BOXING', The Northam Advertiser (WA : 1895 - 1955), 7 November, p. 6. , viewed 05 May 2023,

Department of Veterans' Affairs & NSW Board of Studies (2010), 'Australian Peace Ambassadors', Gallipoli and the Anzacs, accessed archived version on 4 May 2023, TROVE,

Hugo Throssell, quoted in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, 1995, p.224

London Gazette 15 October 1915 (Issue: 29328 Page: 10154.) The Gazette Official Public Record (est 1665), viewed 4 May 2023,

Suzanne Welborn (1990), 'Throssell, Hugo Vivian Hope (1884–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, viewed 2 May 2023,

Australian War Memorial, 'Victoria Cross: Second Lieutenant Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell, 10 Light Horse Regiment, AIF', viewed 4 May 2023,

The Australian Light Horse Association, 'H.V.H Throssell', viewed 2 May 2023,

Monument Australia (2015), 'Captain Hugo Throssell V.C.', viewed on 5 May 2023,

Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation (1915), Western Australia, 'Captain Hugo Throssell's wartime injuries and illnesses', National Archives of Australia, viewed 5 May 2023,

Officer in Charge, Base Records Office and the Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office (1916), 'Notification of Captain Hugo Throssell's Victoria Cross', National Archives of Australia, viewed 5 May 2023,

Throssell, Ric, 'My Father's Son', Kunapipi, 18(2), 1996. Available at:

Wikipedia Editors (2023), Hugo Throssell (2023, 18 January), viewed 4 May 2023,

[Robertson, quoted in Lionel Wigmore in collaboration with Bruce Harding, They Dared Mightily, Canberra, 1963, p 50]

Last updated: 13 July 2023

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2023), Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 22 September 2023,
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