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Author Topic: The Price of Valour by John Hamilton  (Read 16754 times)
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« on: 16 September 2012, 12:58:48 am »

The triumph and tragedy of a Gallipoli hero, Hugo Throssell, VC

The Price of Valour, the latest book to be published by the bestselling author of Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You and Gallipoli Sniper, John Hamilton, was launched by the former Prime Minister John Howard at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on Thursday 23rd August. It tells the remarkable and tragic life story of Captain Hugo Vivian Throssell VC of the 10th Light Horse Regiment, the first Western Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross, and the only Light Horseman to be so rewarded during World War 1.

Hamilton has undertaken an inordinate scope of meticulous research to bring Throssell’s life to reader, and as with his previous two books, he has again performed that task with great skill, bringing a personally compelling and sadly moving account of that tragic life. The narrative presents Throssell’s story from his birth at Northam , West Australia in 1884, his childhood years, the pioneer farming on the wheatbelt country, and enlistment in 10th Light Horse Regiment AIF with the commissioned rank of 2nd Lieutenant, soon after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. When the regiment embarked for Egypt in February 1915, Throssell had to remain behind with the balance of the regiment that were unable to sail with the first troop ship, then departing two weeks later onboard the HMAT A50 “Itonus” as officer commanding the 2nd Reinforcements 10th LH Regt. Again when the regiment, as a part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, sailed for Gallipoli as dismounted infantry, bitterly disappointed, Throssell was ordered to remain behind at Hellipolis Camp, Egypt, to look after the regiment’s horses. He landed at Anzac Cove on the 3rd August as the officer in command of eighty reinforcements, five days before the fateful charge of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at The Nek.

To read the description of the heroic fight of Throssell and his men at Hill 60, Gallipoli, where the VC was won, of his gallantry with continuing to direct the desperate and horrendous bomb fight in defence of the position, despite the terrible wounds he had sustained until being ordered out by the medical officer, his long convalescence in England, then of the joy and happiness of a life with his future wife, Katharine Susannah Prichard, journalist, novelist and committed socialist, his return to active service in the Sinai desert and his being again wounded at the 2nd Battle for Gaza. After the war back in the west, their marriage, love and devotion for one another, the birth of their only son, Ric, Hugo’s public denunciation of war, his long suffering and fits of depression from the effects of his war wounds, all only to end with the despair and struggle of his later life during the great depression, and finally the taking of his own life just brings home the sadness of what should have been a rewarding and glorious life for Throssell, as should have been the want with all those Anzac’s who had lived through the horror and hardships of the Great War. Hamilton sums this up very well, "It is also the story about the tragedy and futility of war and how war claims victims long after the guns have fallen silent."

The military history purists and academically minded will probably bemoan the lack of any end notes for the work, but to any scholar with an interest to the campaigns of the First World War, the extensive, Acknowledgements, Bibliography and Index section of the book will give adequate direction to the sources of reference material used, and more than enough clues to the accessing of such reference works if further study should be desired. It is, as with his previous books, not John Hamilton’s intention, or goal, to publish a purely academic military history, but to present an interesting and factually informative story of the Anzac soldiers he has chosen to write about, and to my view, a task he has accomplished extraordinarily well.
To have stood at Hugo Throssell’s sadly neglected grave at Karrakatta Cemetery on Remembrance Day 2011, pausing for a moment to reflect upon his deeds and to place a red poppy in remembrance, I now wish that I had had the advantage of having read this fine book before hand to fully appreciate and comprehend the trials and tribulations of this courageous Gallipoli hero and gallant Light Horseman. John Hamilton is to be congratulated for again producing a fine and compelling read. Very highly recommended.

Jeff Pickerd

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