Australian War Memorial   VC Winners    Anzac Wrap Hugo Throssell  A03688
Australian War Memorial VC Winners Anzac Wrap Hugo Throssell A03688

For the past eight decades a simple granite headstone is all that has marked the grave of Capt. Hugo Throssell, the first West Australian awarded a Victoria Cross during World War I.

The nondescript grave at Perth's war cemetery seemed set to remain, if not for the efforts of Dave Sims, of Northam.

The fly-in, fly-out worker launched a one-man campaign to refurbish Capt. Throssell's grave after reading about the Northam-born soldier in John Hamilton's book The Price of Valour.

"At the end it said, 'Even to this day the only recognition is a small memorial the size of a backyard barbecue in an unkempt grave in a lonely part of Karrakatta'," Mr Sims said.

"I couldn't believe it. We had to do something about it."

Mr Sims has raised about $8000 for a bronze headstone featuring Capt. Throssell's photo and a citation detailing his "conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty" on the Gallipoli Peninsula in April 1915.

The plaque reads: "Although severely wounded in several places during a counterattack, 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."

Capt. Throssell, son of former WA premier George Throssell, fought with the WA 10th Light Horse Regiment.

After the war he married writer Katharine Susannah Prichard, a founding member of the Australian Communist Party, and supported her anti-war activities. Depressed and on the verge of bankruptcy, he took his own life in 1933.

The Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Perth's Wesley College, the Northam Shire, Northam RSL and WA's 10th Light Horse Troop and 10th Light Horse Regiment donated money towards the restoration.

Mr Sims also thanked Nationals MP Mia Davies and Liberal MP Tony Simpson for their support. 10th Light Horse squadron Sgt-Maj. Bruce Williams said it was important that Capt. Throssell was honoured appropriately.

"He is the only Light Horseman to be awarded the Victoria Cross," he said. "He's done a lot for our country."

Mr Sims hopes to raise another $1000 for further upgrades to the gravesite.

He said the plaque would be installed this year and an official ceremony was planned.

The West Australian

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