James Frederick RULE - RTA - ID# 601

Early Life

344 Private RULE, James Frederick - ID# 601 Cheops Pyramid 10 Jan 1915James RULE was born in Smith St, Collingwood, Victoria on the 16 August 1891, the first child to Alexander and Constance Rule.

James had two brothers, David & John (aka Jack) and a sister Constance, called Aunty Pet by the nieces and nephews. In 1901 James enjoyed seeing the streets of Melbourne decorated with arches for the celebration of Federation.

His mother left her husband in 1901 and came to Western Australia, with her four children, to live near her sister Catherine, who lived in Kalgoorlie with her husband Archibald Maxwell for a time before moving to Darlington in the Perth hills. Housing was in short supply in the Goldfields so Constance ran a boarding house. James enjoyed the rough boat trip across the Great Australian Bight and often talked about the plates sliding from one side of the table to the other when the ship heaved forward against the roaring forties. We think they disembarked in Albany where Archibald came to meet them in horse and cart for them to commence their new life in the Goldfields. James completed his education in Coolgardie then worked at the batteries on one of the mines. He was offered a sponsorship to become a geologist but his mother would not permit it, as he had to work to support her and his brothers and sister. In 1910 his mother moved the family to Perth where he found a job with G & R. Wills as a warehouseman.

The War Years

While working for Wills the First World War was declared and when the Australian Government called men to volunteer their services to fight for the 'Mother Country' James enlisted. Then aged 24, he joined the Western Australian Imperial Regiment and trained at Blackboy Hill Camp before embarking from Fremantle on the Ascanius (A11) 2 November 1914, along with his fellow 11th Battalion servicemen. The Ascanius joined the ANZAC convoy on 3 November 1914 and proceeded in convoy to Colombo. The voyage was not without incident as after leaving Colombo the Ascanius (A11) rammed the troop transport Shropshire (A9) on 21 November 1914 but both ships were able to continue in convoy to Aden. The men trained in Egypt before sailing to Gallipoli on the HMT Suffolk landing there at dawn on the 25 April 1915.

Landing at Gallipoli

344 Pte Rule, James Frederick, Blackboy Hill, September 1914

James spoke about how the English badly planned the whole exercise that began on 19 February 1915 with the British navy firing at the Turkish positions. The wind blowing the ships off course and the Australians landed at a beach surrounded by cliffs that were very difficult to climb. The Turks sat at the top of the cliffs in their bunkers and shot many of the Australians at the landing. James had several of his friends die in his arms.

When the Australians first arrived at Gallipoli they did not even have enough weapons for all the soldiers. Not every soldier had a riffle! Also they did not receive sufficient food, it was a great treat when the English shared some of their food especially the dark chocolate. I am not sure how they were to dig trenches and fight a war on near empty stomachs. James told us that the flies were extremely bad and living conditions were nonexistent. We remember Dad saying how he waded through maggot infested water in the trenchers (from the dead bodies) when coming to shore, and said he got “Barrcoo rot” from these conditions.

The conditions in Gallipoli caused many of the men in the army including James to be hospitalised many times.

3 April 1916 he was transferred to the Anzac Police Corp. The Circular Memorandum and the duties help understand the formation and duties of the Anzac Police. The relevant sections are:


Head-quarters, Ismarlia, 9-3-1916 CIRCULAR MEMORANDUM No. 29 Subject :- Organisation - Military Police Corps. 1 - The military police of the A.I.F. will hereafter form a Corps ... Instructions have been issued to Hd.Qrs., A.I.F., Cairo regarding the establishment ...Men selected to serve with the above sections will be transferred to the Military Police Corps. C.B.White Brigadier General D.A. & Q.M.G. Australian and New Zealand Forces.


On 2th May 1916, 21 Officers and 589 other ranks, selected from all units of the A.I.F., were marched into barracks Abbassia. Thus began one month of intensive training in all aspects of military police duties and soldiering. Those men who failed to meet the rigid requirement of the new Corps, were marched out, and returned to their units. From inception it had been decided that only A class men would be accepted into the new Corps. Also to eliminate the perception amongst other units in the A.I.F., that men joining the new Corps were doing so to evade Active Service, those men who had not seen service in the face of the enemy were transferred to the Desert Mounted Corps, on completion of their training. Commanded by, Major General H.G. Chauvel CB, CMG., they remained with the Desert Corps, until they had seen service in the face of the enemy, and were capable of taking their place with the ANZAC Provost Corps (APC). After the initial intake, all new recruits must have seen service in the face of the enemy. By 1917, the requirements for entry into the APC were the strictest of any unit in the A.I.F.


The scope and nature of the duties of members of the Corps has varied little from formation in 1916 to the present.

  • Rear area duties included town patrols, VIP, hospital and PoW escorts and detention barrack duties.
  • Field duties included route reconnaissance, water discipline, field security (spies, saboteurs, guarding of stores etc), PoW escorts and discipline. (Ref - Digger History website)

He soon learned that some of the English Officers, who could not cope with the war, became drunk and suffered the DT's. James also spoke about the women acting as double agents partnering the English officers then telling all to the Turkish agents in Cairo. In later life he did not like his daughters wearing, mini skirts, jewellery and make up as it reminded him of these women.

August 1916 saw James embark for the United Kingdom. On arriving in England he first spent time in hospital before continuing his work as a member of the Anzac Police at Tidworth. In January 1918 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then in October 1918 he was promoted to Extra Regimental (E.R.) Corporal, due to the necessity to replace the wounded NCO's who were still on the Regiments pay books, these duties were therefore above the Regiment's authorised number of officers (i.e. E.R.).In November 1918 James moved to Australian Headquarters London. He was granted 75 days leave with pay in England and had to report to Administration in December 1919 for the Special 1914 leave that the ANZACs were awarded. He was sent to Portland for his leave.

English Red Cross nurses attended to the Australian soldiers while at the barracks. One in particular came to the attention of James; her name was Lily Eleanor Jane Powell. The romance blossomed and they were married in December 1918 at St John's Church Fortuneswell. After serving 5 years and five days abroad, James with his new wife Lily, travelled on the Mahana back to Australia. The ship arrived back in Western Australia on the 3 November 1919.

James found it difficult to talk about his experiences of the war and found the ANZAC parades on the 25 April too distressing to attend. Later in life he did join the Gallipoli Legion of ANZACs and attended their smaller parades but still found these parades emotional.

Back in Western Australia

James ran a draper's shop opposite the Midland Junction Town Hall corner of Great Eastern Highway and Great Northern Highway, Midland. Lily and James lived above the shop until approximately 1931. He purchased a 40-acre property in Hovea because Lily was not well, she had tuberculosis and he hoped the fresh air would help her regain her health. James also ran a Mercer & draper shop at Perth Rd, Bassendean from 1928 to 1932. Lily also had a had a draper shop at 7 Newcastle St, Midland for a short period around 1923. Hovea is a very small siding between Parkerville and the Sir John Forrest National Park.

Besides the railway siding there were only a few homes. The forty-acre property that James purchased was on Alexander Road which is approximately half way between the Hovea siding and Parkerville village. Most of the land was still natural bush with numerous kangaroos, jumping through the property, snakes and goannas. Lily and James had three sons. Sadly Lily contacted tuberculosis and died at the age of thirty seven in 1933.

In Decembers 1934, James married his second wife Isabelle and they had five children, one of whom was Beth, the author or this article.

Farming at Hovea

On the property in Hovea James planted fruit trees including apricots, plums, oranges and lemons, there was also one large fig tree at the back door of the house which in summer kept the back of the house cool. The soil was very heavy gravel and in places clay and therefore difficult to dig. James also purchased a cow that was milked for the family needs. At one stage the family owned three cows one named Babe. One of the cows used to get out frequently and had to chase it back into the paddock. Jeannette can remember stepping off the train at the Hovea siding and seeing the three cows all grazing there so the fun commenced trying to encourage them to walk home the one and half miles. He also built up a free range poultry farm while still running the shop in Midland. Many of the eggs were used for export because of the good quality. All the family had to work on the poultry farm, taking food around, collecting eggs, cleaning out the water troughs, helping build the sheds and also helping clean them out regularly. It was also a nightly job of gathering grass and putting it through the chaff cutter ready for the morning feed, which dad mixed into the dry ingredients of bran pollard etc.

Beth can remember carrying one thousand chickens from Parkerville railway station home when she was only about 10 years old. During the Second World War James grew vegetables, but on one occasion the army drove through the fences and set up camp in his veggie patch, coincidentally the best veggies they had grown in years. The soldiers disappeared early the next morning leaving very few vegetables, but a lot of repair work on the fences.

Working as a draper

Besides the draper shop opposite the Midland Town Hall, in the early 1920's, James set up a small manufacturing business, making football jumpers. Then he moved down the road in Great Northern Highway to where he was when the depression began. During the depression, like many businesses, he lost the shop. Cecil R. Tucker took over the shop and James carried on running the business, particularly the Drapery department. He sometimes walked or caught a goods train home from Midland as there was no other transport Tucker's shop, was near the convent and while working for Mr Tucker the Nuns came in with goods the students had stolen and complained about the modern way of setting up a shop, which they felt encouraged stealing. He was then invited to manage the Drapery department of the Midland Guildford Co-op. He had to rise in the mornings at 4.00am to feed the fowl before going to work. While working at the co-op he also built up the poultry farm to approximately 3000 laying hens he gave up working for the Co-op and just concentrated his energies on the property. In the 1950's the style of poultry farms was changing and James could not come to terms with the battery style farm, with free range he could not farm commercially, so sold all the fowl, and looked for another job. This was just before Christmas and he obtained a position at Foy & Gibsons, Hay Street, Perth for the Christmas break but lasted nine years until he had to retire at the age of seventy.

Typical of James he obtained another job at Cant's in Epson Rd, Belmont and worked there for several years. Then Ahern's invited him to work for a short period to teach those already working in the Mens' Department. He was highly respected from all in the trade and his knowledge in this field was well renowned. At the age of 75 James started to feel that the work on the property was beyond him.

His daughter Beth, who helped do the physical work especially the fire breaks, was marrying later that year, therefore the Hovea property was sold in 1966 and the family moved to North Perth. Right through his working life he set an excellent example of dedication and hard work in whatever he did. Several times he did carry this a little too far, as he did not take time off when he had pneumonia or pleurisy

Sporting interests

When living in the goldfields it is believed that James won several medals for walking races. His interests in sport were rekindled while living in Midland. He joined the North Midland Cricket Club and in 1920 became the President. He also was actively involved with the Midland Football Club until it moved to Bassendean and became the Swan District Football Club.

As a member of the Midland Business Men's Association he felt the Clubs move to Bassendean would be a retrograde step for the businesses of Midland. James always encouraged his family to participate in sport and was always willing to transport them to wherever the hockey match was that week. Often he also transported about half the team. The Clock tower on the Midland Town Hall was erected in honour of the fallen soldiers of the First World War; organised by the committee members of the Midland Business Men's Association, which James was one.


Freemasons is a fraternity started in 1711 with symbolism based on the stone mason's trade and rituals based on the building of Solomon's temple. The men meet regularly for their ritual meetings and also organised charity work. James belonged to the Freemasons for many years in two different lodges, Friendship and Spring Park Lodge. He resigned from the lodges because he felt the men were more interested in the social side of the lodge instead of the rituals.

The Man

Before the war James was studying theology to become a Presbyterian minister, he left his studies to enlist for the army. When arriving back in Western Australia he never took up studying again. We are not sure if it was his mother that wanted him to go into the church, as she was a deacon within the Presbyterian Church. He was an outspoken man on many subjects, including politics. So many times, years later, his family would say yes that was what dad predicted. James was a very advanced thinker for his time.

He was worried about the number of trees that were being bulldozed, when so much land was cleared for farming and suburban spread. He informed his family that it would effect the weather patterns and the soil! Now many parts of Western Australia have problems with salt. He loved living at Hovea even though the work was hard, there was no electric power until he purchased a second hand 32-volt power engine in the early 60's. Lighting was a variety of kerosene lamps such as the old hurricane lamp. The washing was done in the old copper and wrung by hand. A chip wood bath heater heated the water for baths. It was not unusual that in winter the water would freeze in the pipes and when the chip bath heater was lit it would explode. When working around the property he used hand drills and the soldering iron heated in a small fire in an old kerosene tin with a small semi-circular hole at the base to accept the soldering iron. Near the end of the 2nd World War, the water authorities would not connect the scheme water to the Hovea property. The reason the water authority gave was if they did, Parkerville Children's Home would not have been able to receive enough water. They condescended to putting a standpipe down the hill, on the corner of Alexander and Victoria Roads. James took the backseats of the family car out and a put in a false floor, and packed with approximately ten kerosene tins which were filled with water and taken back home. The water was used for the fowls etc. This trip was done two to three times each day, depending on the weather. This process had to be continued until he had the bore installed. While the Rule's lived in Hovea the scheme water was never connected to their property, they relied on the tank water for drinking and cooking and bore for general use, the bore was a distance from the house so James laid pipes to both the house and the poultry pens. This made the family's work easier.

James loved and appreciated the wildlife. The family used to sit on the verandah and enjoy watching the kangaroos eating the apricots. He would also encourage his children to sit on the verandah and enjoy the lightening. He also talked about his days in Kalgoorlie and how the lightening would bounce off the galvanised iron fences. In the late 1940's, on his way to work, the car did not have bright lights, it was pouring with rain, no street lights, when a large grey kangaroo jumped out of the bush and landed right on the windscreen of the car. James receiving several deep cuts as well as the broken windscreen, in typical form he continued on to Midland. James checked out at the Doctors whereby stitches were inserted several places on his face, back to the shop where he cleaned himself up, purchased a new shirt and still arrived in time to commence work.

Generous to a fault

He was a very generous man, therefore not always the best business person. When friends wanted our fruit he would give it away instead of asking for some money. During wildflower season many strangers picked as many kangaroo paws as they could put in the car but James never charged them. Custard, savoury mince and sultana cakes are some of the foods James' family enjoyed him cooking. He enjoyed playing cards this included bridge and crib, and did so regularly. James had friends in many walks of life and different nationalities, including those he regularly met for lunch at the Wentworth Hotel.

During the Second World War and the period just after, Australia had rationing on many items of food and clothing, the family we were not affected as James swapped clothing rations for food with those that lived in the Swan, either Italians or Yugoslavs. The only item that did affect the family was petrol, therefore during that period they caught the train. This was a walk of one and a half miles to either Parkerville station or Hovea siding. They kept the small amount of petrol for emergencies. He could not sit idle so reading the paper he noticed a job for a handyman for a Gibson motel applied and was accepted and enjoyed his months spent in Gibson. Gibson is just north of Esperance. Typical of James he soon became involved in meetings for the New Years Day races.

While still living in Hovea he made furniture and refitted the kitchen with new cupboards. His family think he did a wonderful job especially that he never had any lessons. Television first came to Perth late 1956. While living in Hovea the family could not have television as they were only on 32-volt power. He was not sure about the benefits of television, but his daughter Patricia hired one so that he could watch the landing of the first man on the moon (1969). He enjoyed watching this event and the wildlife, current affairs, news programs and sporting. Of course, back then, it was black and white, no colour.

Early in October 1969 James checked with his doctor, Dr Jolly, if he was well enough to drive to Coolgardie for a school reunion. Dr Jolly gave the OK, he set off on the Saturday and by his letter to his youngest daughter, Diane, he enjoyed the reunion. This letter would be the last one he wrote, as he died two days later. Because of his period of fighting in the First World War, during which he was gassed, James had stomach problems. Later in life he suffered from angina.

As he did most Fridays, James was catching the bus to travel into town to meet his son Robert for lunch, when in late October 1969 he suffered a massive heart attack and died at the bus stop near his home in North Perth.


  Article provided by Beth Smith (nee Rule), daughter of James Rule.

This is article is an updated version of an article first published in the WAGS publication: Family Reflections - WAGS Silver Anniversary Anthology - available via the WAGS bookshop.