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Arthur Vivian Spedding, 1890 - 1915

Arthur Spedding was killed in action at Gallipoli on 2 May 1915 aged 23. His name is on the Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Turkey.

Arthur was born on 7 March 1890 in Dunedin. His parents were Susan Margaret and Donald MacKenzie Spedding. His father was a well-known auctioneer in Dunedin and his brother Leslie became a doctor. Arthur was a member of the choir of St Paul's Cathedral. He attended Arthur Street School and Otago Boys' High School and passed his matriculation and solicitors' general knowledge examination in 1907.

From school he went to Otago University, where he studied law. He worked as a law clerk at the law firm Downie Stewart and Payne. Spedding was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court by Justice Sim on 21 August 1914, just before he left New Zealand with the Expeditionary Force.

Spedding was active in the territorial forces, beginning with the High School Cadets and Officers' Training Corps and joining the territorials on their formation. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in December 1911 and in June 1912 it was advised that he had passed the examination for promotion to Captain. On the outbreak of World War I he enlisted with the Otago Infantry Battalion, holding the rank of Captain in A Company. His medical examination showed he was 5 foot 7-3/4 tall (1.72 metres) and weighed 133 pounds (60.3 kg) with hazel eyes and brown hair.

After initial training was completed Spedding embarked with the Main Body of the Otago Infantry Battalion from Port Chalmers on 16 October 1914 for Suez in Egypt. His unit disembarked on 3 December. He was involved in the initial Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915 and was killed in action on 2 May 1915.

Spedding is mentioned in the scrapbook of Colonel William Murphy as having been killed during the night-time assault on Baby 700. A report in the Otago Daily Times on 16 July 1915 gave further details:

"Many allusions were made amongst Otago men to the gallantry of Captain Spedding who met his death in a charge on a trench on the Sunday following the landing. Major Price and Captain Spedding led the charge of their men, and Captain Spedding got too far ahead of his company. When he arrived at the trench he was alone, but without a moment's hesitation he leaped in single-handed amongst the Turks, with whom it was packed. He emptied his revolver, and the inevitable happened. When his men arrived a moment later the Turks had evacuated the trench, but not before they had shot Captain Spedding. 'He was a fine fellow,' said the private who related the story. 'We were sorry to lose him.' Major Price was shot down in the same charge whilst leading his men gallantly'."

Sources: Otago Witness, 28 October 1903, page 29; Otago Witness, 13 February 1907, page 12; Otago Daily Times, 15 December 1911, page 10; Otago Daily Times, 10 June 1912, page 6; Otago Daily Times, 4 August 1913, page 7; Dominion, 18 December 1913, page 3; Otago Daily Times, 24 August 1914, page 2; Otago Daily Times, 22 September 1914, page 7; Otago Daily Times, 22 September 1914, page 8; Oamaru Mail, 21 May 1915, page 5; Press, 22 May 1915, page 11; Otago Daily Times, 16 July 1915, page 3.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour. 

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz.

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Last updated on the 24th April 2019