Tom Rushworth served with the fledgling Royal Australian Navy, enlisting on 12 November 1915 as an Engine Room Artificer. Rushworth, originally from Manchester in England, was living in Collingwood, Victoria at the time and working as a fitter and turner. He initially worked aboard the HMAS Cerberus but was transferred to HMAS Australia in May 1916, with which he spent the rest of his wartime service.
Rushworth accompanied the Australia throughout its North Sea operations until late October 1918 when he transferred to work at the HMA London Depot. After the war, Tom Rushworth continued employment with the RAN, transferring through a number of ships until 1929 when, after fourteen years of service, he was discharged.