Thomas (Tom) William Thrupp was born on 22 September 1903 in Cue, W.A., about 400 km north of Kalgoorlie. He was the only son of George and Elizabeth Thrupp (nee Wilson). Tom was a hard worker and as a lad took whatever work was going in power stations, gold mines and as an engine driver in order to help support his family. In 1918 he joined the Militia Universal Voluntary Enlistment as a cadet, and received his commission to Lieutenant in 1924. He moved to Victoria to study at Melbourne University in 1927 but remained active in the local militia. During this time he married Daisy Ivy Beryl Lann (1904-1971) and the couple had a daughter named Rosalie.
Within a year the Thrupps were living in Glenhuntly and Tom was teaching at Caulfield Technical College. He would be there for the next nine years before accepting a promotion to a senior teacher’s position at Preston Technical College in February 1937. The family then moved to 5 Herbert Street, Preston. One of a number of new recruits to the college, Tom was appointed Senior Assistant to Grade II Classes C and D at an annual salary of £348. He held a Bachelor of Science, a Diploma of Education, Diploma of Mechanics and Electrical Engineering, and additional subjects at university level including English A and Engineering Drawing. Through the School of Mines, WA, he also passed Surveying 1 and 2. His trade certificates included Electrician, Draughtsman, and First Class Engine Driver, and his trade experience included electrical fitting, and train driving. To that were added, nine years experience teaching trades courses in Victorian Technical colleges.
Tom possessed a generous spirit and turned his hand to whatever needed doing around the college including electrical work and fixing the vital pie-warmers.
Rosie caught polio during the 1935 epidemic and was placed in isolation at the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital. Her father rode his bicycle over from Preston every day to leave her gifts of cards, pencils and drawing paper to let her know that she was not forgotten. Tom was also required to stay home from teaching during this time until he was cleared of the infectious disease.
Just after his 37th birthday Tom enlisted in the army on 3 July 1940. His cadet training and militia career meant that he was promoted to Captain in charge of the 51st Light Aid Detachment providing specialised skills maintaining vehicles and guns. Tom was posted to Syria and although his regiment was not involved in combat at the time he was wounded and died on the 26 June 1941. A final letter from Tom arrived at Rosie’s primary school a day after receiving the terrible condolences telegram from the government and she and her mother read it together in tears. Daisy did not come to terms with her husband’s death however when he did not come home at the end of the war she accepted the bitter truth. The circumstances of his accidental shooting were never made clear.
Tom’s premature death was tragic not only for his family but for technical school system in Victoria. He was a gifted and experienced teacher, a man with a kind and generous heart, a curious mind and a strong sense of what was right.
Bray, Rosalie. (2011). Tom Thrupp's War : July 1940-June 1941. Melbourne: the author.