Rank: Lance Corporal
Regimental Number: 796
Place of Birth: South Melbourne, Victoria
Address: 132 Duke Street,
East Fremantle, Perth,
Next of Kin: Wife, Mrs Kate Cruthers (from 1916) 132 Gibbs Street, Fremantle, Perth.
Father, Mr J M Cruthers,
25 Essex Street, Fremantle, Perth, Western Australia
Enlistment Date: 14 September 1914
Unit Name: 12th Battalion
Date of Death: 13 September 1992
Cause of Death: Old age.
He was 99 years old
Place of Death: Kwinana, Perth, Western Australia
Year of Photo: 1916
- Service Record (National Archives of Australia)
- Australian War Memorial Listing
- Australian Imperial Force Database
- State Library of Western Australia Catalogue
James Cruthers enlisted in Perth, Western Australia in September 1914 as a private in the 12th Battalion. He was from Fremantle, 22 years old, and a typist. He embarked on HMAT Medic on 31 October 1914 and joined the first convoy sailing to Egypt. There they were designated as part of the covering force for the Gallipoli landing and came ashore from 4.30am on 25 April 1915. His first hand account of the Gallipoli landing was reported in The West Australian of 12 July 1915 (see associated panel). On the third day after the landing, James was halfway up a steep hill with his company providing support to another. They were pinned in place by lethal Turkish snipers who slowly picked off the three men on his left followed by the three on his right. As James bent to help one of them as he fell. He was shot just above the elbow. His injury saw him invalided home to Australia where he was to be discharged medically unfit. He arrived in July 1915 on the Kyarra the first ship to return with wounded soldiers. Here he recuperated, married sweetheart Kate Nestor and their first child James was born. He also posed for this photograph in The Dease Studio. Then instead of being discharged he rejoined the AIF and re-embarked overseas in November 1916. Re-issued with a new service number (6704) he fought to have his old service number (796) reinstated. He was proud of it as it indicated his early enlistment and Gallipoli service. Authorities eventually agreed and his original number was reinstated after he rejoined his unit in January 1917. He would not realise how important this would be until later.
In Meteren, France on 23 April 1918 James was wounded in action once more – this time a severe gunshot to the left leg. Doctors initially determined to amputate but the surgeon seeing his service number refused to take the leg off a man who’d been at Gallipoli and so his leg was saved. That was the end of James’ time at war and he was returned to Australia once more in June 1918. For his bravery and gallant leadership under extraordinary rifle, machine gun and shrapnel fire at Meteren that day he received the Military Medal. His citation read: "Lance Corporal Cruthers was sent forward to reinforce the front line which was being counter attacked by enemy bombing parties. He led his section over ground swept by machine gun and rifle fire and repelled the attack consolidated his position and drove off subsequent attacks by excellent bombing. Although continually bombarded by minenwerfer, he kept his men well in hand and set a splendid example to the men of his section. He was severely wounded in leg and arm." Kate and James’ baby, James, born in 1916 died while James was away at war. After his return five more were born. Four of which survived, one was the future Sir Jim Cruthers born in 1924 who in 1958, became the founding general manager of Western Australia’s first television station, TV Channel 7