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Moral courage at Gallipoli, Lieutenant Colonel Malone.

Lieutenant-Colonel Malone's bivouac on Walker's Ridge.

Lieutenant Colonel Malone stands outside his bivouac on Walker's Ridge, Gallipoli, 1915.

 

Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone's contributions during the Gallipoli campaign remained unknown for many years and he was even blamed for the loss of Chunuk Bair. The Taranaki Lieutenant Colonel has been exonerated by historians, recent discoveries from his diaries and letters have shed light on the remarkable moral and physical fortitude he displayed during his time at war. Malone's unwavering dedication to his men and exceptional leadership skills have come to light. From a successful lawyer and farmer to a respected commander, Malone's journey exemplifies the sacrifices made by countless individuals in service to their country. 

 

Born in England on January 24, 1859, William Malone emigrated to New Zealand in 1880. He became involved in the Armed Constabulary alongside his brother. After participating in various operations, including the storming of Parihaka, Malone purchased land near Stratford, where he became a successful farmer and lawyer. He also played an active role in the Stratford community, serving on the Hawera County Council and the Taranaki Hospital and Charitable Aid Board. Malone's dedication to his family and his country would shape his future role as a military leader.

 

As tensions escalated in Europe, Malone, a member of the Territorial Force, foresaw a major war involving New Zealand and the British Empire. Malone's preparations for war included studying military history, physical training, and intense conditioning. His dedication and foresight would prove invaluable on the battlefield. He was selected to command the Wellington Infantry Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force when the First World War broke out. Arriving at Gallipoli's Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, Malone demonstrated exceptional leadership and bravery in the face of relentless challenges.

 

During the landing at Gallipoli, Malone's concerns about his ability to cope with combat were dispelled. In a letter written just four days after the landing, he expressed his relief and wrote, "I have had and have no inclination to duck which I thought everyone had." Malone discovered a resilience within himself that he had not anticipated. In a letter, he wrote, "Dreadful things are all around – yet no dread. It seems the same with all of us." This statement encapsulates the unwavering courage exhibited by Malone and his comrades. Responsible for over 1,000 lives, Malone demanded the best from his unit while remaining devoted to their well-being. This made him loved and hated by his men and resented by many of his superiors. 

During the chaotic and fierce fighting in the early days of the campaign, Malone's admiration for his men grew exponentially. He wrote in his diary, "My men are wonderful. The world never saw better men or braver." These words exemplify his deep respect and unwavering dedication to his soldiers, whom he considered his extended family.

 Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone quote at te papa

Quote from a letter written by Malone to his wife, at Te Papa.

 As a battalion commander Malone was a demanding leader who consistently pushed his unit to be the best. During the Second Battle of Krithia, he took the initiative to guide another officer through the front lines, narrowly escaping a bullet himself. Malone's increasing disillusionment with his superior, Brigadier-General Francis Earl Johnston, stemmed from Johnston's poor planning and tactical decisions.

Lieutenant Colonel Malone's defining moment of moral courage came during the August Offensive at Gallipoli. After a failed attack on Chunuk Bair, Johnston ordered Malone and his battalion to repeat the suicidal assault. Malone refused, stating that he would not ask his men to commit suicide. He believed his battalion could capture Chunuk Bair under the cover of darkness. This decision displayed his unwavering commitment to the lives of his men.

Lieutenant-Colonel Malone Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair 8 August 1915 

Lieutenant-Colonel Malone's Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair 8 August 1915.

Under Malone's leadership, the Wellington Battalion successfully captured Chunuk Bair, but their position was soon subjected to fierce Ottoman counterattacks. Malone fought tirelessly alongside his men, leading bayonet charges when their position was gravely threatened. Even when armed only with an entrenching tool, he displayed tremendous courage and inspired his troops through his words and actions. Despite their valiant efforts, Malone and his small headquarters team were eventually overwhelmed.

Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone was killed on August 8, 1915, by friendly fire while defending Chunuk Bair. His death marked the loss of a great leader and the decimation of the Wellington Battalion. Initially, Malone's achievements were overshadowed by criticisms of his defensive arrangements during the battle. However, subsequent studies have refuted these claims, attributing the failure to higher command decisions.

Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone gates

Malone Memorial Gates in Stratford.

Malone's legacy lives on through the Malone Memorial Gates in Stratford, one of New Zealand's largest war memorials dedicated to an individual soldier. His story was also immortalized in Maurice Shadbolt's play "Once on Chunuk Bair" and its subsequent film adaptation, "Chunuk Bair."

Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone's unwavering courage and selflessness in the face of danger distinguish him as a true hero and a great New Zealander. His unwavering dedication to his men and his act of moral courage at Chunuk Bair embody the true essence of leadership and heroism. From his early career in law and farming to his exceptional leadership on the battlefields of Gallipoli, Malone's life represents the sacrifices made by countless individuals who fought for their country. Today, we honor his memory and remember the indomitable spirit of those who fought alongside him, forever grateful for their unwavering dedication and bravery.

Lieutenant Colonel William Malone's statue stands tall on Broadway South. It faces Mt Taranaki, topped in his signature lemon squeezer hat.

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