Dust jacket, E J Rule, 'Jacka’s Mob', Melbourne, 1933
Front cover of Edgar Rule’s Jacka’s Mob, first published in 1933. It is a unit history of the 14th Battalion, AIF, in which both Albert Jacka and Edgar Rule served. Rule enlisted in the AIF, fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, and was a well-decorated soldier being awarded both the Military Medal and the Military Cross. His account of the 14th Battalion, praised by Bean, was based largely on his own diaries and letters.
John Masefield (1878-1967), who wrote Rule’s foreword, was an English poet and writer who, from 1930 until his death, was the British ‘Poet Laureate’. (A ‘Poet Laureate’ is a poet officially appointed by a government and often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events.) Masefield went to Gallipoli in charge of a civilian motor boat ambulance service and, in 1917, at the request of Charles Masterman, head of Britain’s War Propaganda Bureau, he produced a book about the campaign – Gallipoli. It was an attempt to show the achievements of Gallipoli despite the eventual withdrawal. In Gallipoli, Masefield famously described the men who had fought there in these lines:
No such gathering of fine ships has ever been seen upon this earth, and the beauty and the exultation of the youth upon them made them seem like sacred things as they moved away. All that they felt was a gladness of exultation that their young courage was to be used. They went like Kings in a pageant to their imminent death.
The campaign came, more than once, very near to triumph, achieved the impossible many times, and failed, in the end from something which had nothing to do with arms nor with the men who bore them.