Person - Ric Throssell

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Of interest to ASIO, the only child of writer Katharine Susannah Prichard and war hero Hugo Throssell was born at Greenmount WA in the Perth Hills. He was educated at Perth’s Wesley College and served in New Guinea in the Second World War. He was nicknamed “Ric” after an uncle killed in the Battle of Gaza (his father, a Gallipoli VC winner, crawled among the dead and dying whistling in an effort to find him). Ric’s maternal grandfather had suicided, and Hugo suicided in 1933. Ric too suicided in 1999.

Ric Throssell wrote 26 plays, most unpublished, and had contact with Sydney New Theatre through Miles Franklin, a friend of his mother. In 1945 his Sailor’s Girl was co-winner with Call Up Your Ghosts by Dymphna Cusack in a NT one-act play competition. It was subsequently produced in 1948 at the Modern Women’s Club in Perth. In 1949 Throssell asked Miles Franklin to act as his “agent” in negotiations about a play he sent anonymously to another Sydney NT play competition. A diplomat with Foreign Affairs, he didn’t want to be connected with the script, “a sling-off at Yankee foreign policies which might not be appreciated in some quarters”. Franklin agreed to be his “fence” and in 1953 she unsuccessfully tried to persuade NT to stage his Devil Wear Black, a work that has since been published.

In 1941, after the lifting of the ban, Throssell played a lead in the Workers' Art Guild's Till The Day I Die in Perth. From 1943, when he joined the diplomatic service, he was involved with the Canberra Rep as a writer, director and actor; he played John Proctor in The Crucible. From the 1950s he was under constant Security surveillance after his mother, perhaps unwittingly, passed on his political gossip to Soviet spy Wally Clayton. Throssell’s KGB code name was “Ferro”. His career path was hindered by his mother’s CPA membership.

In 1945 he married a co-worker “Bea” Elwen Hague Gallacher who died four months after joining him in Moscow where he had been posted. In 1947 he married Dorothy “Dodie” Jordan (member of the Eureka Youth League 1942-44 and the CPA). Both she and Ric Throssell died on 20 April 1999.

In 1983 Throssell sold his father’s VC medal and used the proceeds to finance a film for peace made by the People for Nuclear Disarmament. The medal was subsequently bought by the RSL who donated it to the Australian War Memorial.

There is a lot of material online about Ric Throssell including a Wikipedia entry. His obituary was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 April 1999. Sailor’s Girl is in BOX 6 of his papers (MS 8071) held by the National Library of Australia, a collection which also holds correspondence (BOX 7) re his attempts to have his plays mounted.

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