The West

Digger took time to beat war  demons
Proud Digger: James Frederick Rule at Blackboy Hill camp in 1914. Picture: Supplied

Despite the role he played in Australian military history, it took some time for James Frederick Rule to attend Anzac Day parades.

The horrors of World War I had left him with memories too painful to contemplate.

He had sailed with the 11th Battalion from Fremantle on October 31, 1914, aboard the transport ship Ascanius.

The 11th Battalion, along with the 9th, 10th and 12th Battalions, formed the 3rd Brigade, the covering force for the Anzac landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and was the first ashore about 4.30am.

Rule's daughter Beth Smith said her father had spoken later of his belief that the landing had been badly planned, boats had been blown off course and of the tough task they had going in to face Turkish fire from the cliffs above.


Her father "had several of his mates die in his arms", Mrs Smith said.

As a result he found it too distressing to go to Anzac Day marches for most of his life, but in his later years attended smaller gatherings of Gallipoli veterans, she said.

"He still found these emotional," Mrs Smith said. She said her father's other memories of Gallipoli included flies, maggots, illness and Barcoo rot (a type of ulcer), and he was treated in hospital several times.

He also recalled, with more fondness, dark chocolate treats shared by English soldiers.

The 11th Battalion served at Gallipoli until the evacuation in December 1915, and returned to Egypt before heading for the Western Front.

In April 1916, Rule was transferred to the new military police, known as the Anzac Provost Corp, and was transferred to England, where he served until the end of the war in 1918.

While in England he met a nurse, Lily Powell, and they married in December 1918, just after the war had ended.

It was not until 1919 that the couple travelled together back to WA.

Rule was among Diggers who gathered on January 10, 1915, to be photographed on Egypt's Cheops Pyramid.

The West Australian is supporting a WA Genealogical Society project to name the 703 men in the image.

WAGS has divided a digital copy of the photograph into grids, so each man is numbered.

Rule has been identified as number 601.

Before the war, Rule had been studying theology with the intention of becoming a Presbyterian minister.

After the war, he did not continue, but instead turned his hand to many jobs, including running a draper's store in Midland, a poultry farm and a small manufacturing business making football jumpers.

He bought a property at Hovea in the hope the fresh air would help Lily's tuberculosis, but sadly she died in 1933.

A copy of the famous picture.

Rule then married a second time, to Isabella, who was Mrs Smith's mother.

Mrs Smith said her father was an advanced thinker who worried about the number of trees being bulldozed and the impact it would have on the environment, kept friends supplied with fruit from the family's trees and enjoyed sitting on the veranda watching kangaroos.

In October 1969, as he waited to catch a bus into Perth for lunch, James Frederick Rule had a massive heart attack and died. He was 78.

Since The Weekend West launched the pyramid photo project with WAGS on Saturday, the organisation had received 149 emails by yesterday. They included leads that could add 17 new names to the list of Diggers who have been identified.

The West Australian

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