John James Thorpe

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John James Thorpe
Thorpe John James.jpg
"Bloody Lucky" by Jack Thorpe OAM page 3
Personal Information
Date of Birth 15 Nov 1897
Place of Birth Fremantle, Western Australia
Death 5 Jan 1960
Place of Death Bassendean, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 18 Years old
Description 5'10½" (1.79m) tall ; 142 lbs
64.41 kg
; fresh complexion ; brown eyes ; dark hair
Occupation Teamster
Religion Church of England
Address Mardella via Mundijong, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr Edward Thorpe
Military Information
Reg Number 4306 & 1162
Date of Enlistment 1 Sep 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 1st tour - 11th Battalion, 13th Reinforcement B Company / 3rd Brigade, 1st Division
2nd tour - 2nd Australian Light Railway Operating Company
Date of Embarkation 17 Jan 1916 ‒ 9 Feb 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A30 Borda to Suez (first enlistment)
Date of Embarkation 24 Nov 1917 ‒ 21 Dec 1917
Ship Embarked On SS Canberra to Suez (second enlistment)
Date of Return 9 Sep 1916 ‒ 13 Oct 1916
Ship Returned On HMAT A61 Kanowna (first return)
Date of Return 10 Dec 1918 ‒ 31 Jan 1919
Ship Returned On SS Somali (second return)
Fate Wounded in Action 22/24 Jul 1916 Poziéres
Returned to Australia (twice)
Monument Mundijong School Roll of Honour
Mundijong Honour Roll
Serpentine Roll of Honour
ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

War Service

Seven weeks after beginning his training in Australia, John was allocated to the 13th reinforcement draft for the 11th Battalion. He arrived in Port Suez in time to join the troops embarking for France. On 29 Mar 1916 he boarded the HMT Transylvania for Marseilles, arriving there on 4 Apr 1916.

Not yet allocated to a unit, he was sent to the Base Depot in Étaples where he caught mumps, and was hospitalised in the 7th General Hospital at St Omer from 1 May 1916. He rejoined the base depot on 24 May 1916 and was then sent to the 11th Battalion where he was allocated to B Company. Wounded in Action with a shrapnel wound to his right arm, neck, knee, leg, and foot (right heel shattered) during fighting at Pozieres 22/24 Jul 1916. On the 24th he was seen by 1st Australian Field Ambulance before being passed to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station, and then the 8th Red Cross Hospital at Le Touquet on 26 Jul 1916. Evacuated to England from Calais on HMHS Dieppe, he was treated at the Bradford War Hospital, before being released to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Harefield on 24 Aug 1916.

On 9 Sep 1916 he boarded HMAT A61 Kanowna for return to Australia where he was discharged by the 5th Military District on 22 Mar 1917, with a pension of 30/- a fortnight. Between visits to the war, John spent time in the West Australian Government Railways as an engine cleaner.

He entered camp in Western Australia for a second time on 29 Oct 1917, and having qualified as a Fireman, on 22 Nov 1917 he was allocated to General Reinforcements, Railway Companies. John returned to the UK on 30 Jan 1918, where he entered Longmoor camp for training before posting to France. On 20 Mar 1918 John proceeded to France via Folkestone where on 28 Mar 1918 he was taken on strength of the 2nd Australian Light Railway Operating Company. During Sep 1918 he was detached for a fortnight to the 5th NX Light Rail Operating Company

On 10 Oct 1918 he reported to hospital with bronchitis and on 21 Oct was evacuated to England aboard the HS Princesse Elisabeth. Admitted to the Central Military Hospital Clapham on 21 Oct, he was released to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 1 Nov 1918 and remained with them until 25 Nov 1918. Sent home early with chronic bronchitis, he was discharged at 5th Military District on 20 Feb 1919.

Post War

Nov 1920 married Monica Glory Spencer. Children were Jack (2nd AIF POW), June (AWAS WW2), Norma and Ron (RAN during WW2). Divorced while living in Armadale. Monica remarried in 1935 to Albert Haseldine.

1934 married Sara Helen George Hughes (d.9 Sep 2004 in Maylands aged 97). Daughter Zoe who lives in the USA.

Electoral Roll entries - 1919 -1924 "Pozières", Serpentine road, East Rockingham (Current Kwinana Golf Course); 1924 Jarrahdale bus proprietor; 1930 - 1938 Armadale, bus proprietor; 1938 Three Springs Hotel, hotel proprietor; 1939 - 1945 served as 290364 Flight Lieutenant (Instructor) with RAAF at Laverton RAAF Base; 1946 Three Springs; 1954 - 1958 businessman at 75 North road, Bassendean. In 1963 Sarah was at Flat 21, 48 Mount street, teacher; 1968 she was at 7 Daylesford road, Bassendean; 1972 at 4/9 Parker street, South Perth; 1977 - 1980 at 1314 Tranby-on-Swan, Maylands.


For a number of years John ran the Armadale Bus service until bought out by the Metropolitan Transport Trust.

During WW2, John served in the RAAF as a flying instructor, and at time of his discharge he was a Squadron Leader. His son John Roy (Jack) Thorpe OAM served with the 2nd AIF and was captured by the Japanese, but lived to tell the tale in his book The life story of just an ordinary bloke who says he was 'Bloody lucky'[1]. He also served with the Occupying Force in Japan and later in Korea with the 3rd Battalion RAR.


  1. Thorpe, Jack (2006). The life story of just an ordinary bloke who says he was 'Bloody lucky'. Victoria Park, W.A.: Hesperian Press. ISBN 0859053814. 

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