Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gilbert Reynolds Troup (1896–1962)

by John McIlwraith

This article was published:

Gilbert Reynolds Troup (1896-1962), anaesthetist, was born on 4 February 1896 at Christchurch, New Zealand, son of Irish-born parents James Troup, iron founder, and his wife Elizabeth Beda, née De Pass. Educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School from 1910, Gilbert studied accountancy and worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), before completing a medical degree at the University of Melbourne (M.B., B.S., 1922); he lived at Ormond College and was president of the Medical Students' Society.

Moving to Western Australia, Troup was resident medical officer at (Royal) Perth Hospital. He commenced private practice as a consultant physician at Subiaco, where, at St Andrew's Church of England on 24 March 1924 he married Brisbane-born Ethel Winifred May, daughter of (Sir) Charles Powers, a judge of the High Court of Australia. In 1929 Troup visited Britain and became a member (1930) of the Royal College of Physicians. Returning to Perth, he was a pioneer of modern anaesthesia in Australia, introducing techniques that improved surgical procedures and the well being of patients. He was a foundation member (sometime president) of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists. At the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America, in 1935 he was introduced to cyclopropane, an anaesthetic that led to major improvements to the science.

In 1938 Troup was elected a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians. On 4 April 1940 he was appointed temporary major, Australian Army Medical Corps (Militia). Seconded to the Australian Imperial Force on 1 July 1941 as a lieutenant colonel, he held senior posts with the 2nd/12th Australian General Hospital, including two months in Ceylon, and the 110th Military Hospital, Hollywood, Perth, before transferring to the Reserve of Officers on 11 February 1944 and returning to civilian practice. Next year he recognized the potential of the arrow poison, curare, especially for lung surgery. He was honorary physician at Royal Perth Hospital and senior anaesthetist at the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood. In 1956 he was anaesthetist in the first thoracic surgical team to visit Papua and New Guinea.

Although Troup practised for most of his life in Perth, his influence was felt throughout the country and he regularly visited Melbourne and Sydney. His achievements in the operating theatre were the more remarkable because he had an elbow disability, caused by an accident when young. To offset this, he designed a simpler device, for the insertion of a tube down a patient's throat, which proved to be valuable to many anaesthetists and helped to pioneer one-lung anaesthesia. Colleagues noted his humility, patience, attention to detail and unfailing courtesy. He was particularly helpful to young anaesthetists. Troup enjoyed carpentry (in which he showed great skill) and fishing.

A sufferer from rheumatoid arthritis, towards the end of his life he saw his own electrocardiograph on a new machine being tested, and recognized signs of heart disease. Troup continued working, however, until a few days before he died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 14 August 1962 in hospital in Perth. He was cremated, survived by his wife and their two daughters. Two annual prizes honour him: one for a final year medical student in anaesthetics at the University of Western Australia, the other for outstanding work by a specialist registrar in training in the field that Troup had helped to found in Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • Medical Journal of Australia, 30 Mar 1963, p 584
  • B883, item WX11140, B884, item W237659, and MP508/1, item 21/710/40 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

John McIlwraith, 'Troup, Gilbert Reynolds (1896–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 4 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


4 February, 1896
Christchurch, New Zealand


14 August, 1962 (aged 66)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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