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Magnus James Larnach, 1883 - 1918

Magnus Larnach was killed in action on the Somme in France on 26 March 1918. He was aged 34. He is buried at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France.

Magnus was born in Dunedin on 15 April 1883. His parents were Isabella Scott and David Larnach JP. His father was a businessman who was involved in many commercial and other organisations in Dunedin, and was a cousin of the Hon WJM Larnach.

Magnus attended the Ravensbourne and Albany Schools. He passed the Junior Civil Service examination in 1899 and was employed by the government in Dunedin on leaving school. He was an excellent gymnast and gave public demonstrations as a member of the Dunedin Gymnastics Club. After a few years Larnach began to study law. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1911 and moved to Auckland in December 1911 to manage a branch office of the Auckland law firm Parr and Blomfield.

At some stage Larnach travelled to England with his father, and he was there at the end of July 1913, returning to New Zealand early in 1914. He returned to Auckland and resumed practice with Parr and Blomfield, appearing regularly in the Auckland Police Court. He was called up for military service in March 1916 and reported for training several months later. One of his last appearances was in July 1916 in the Supreme Court before Hosking J, representing the wife of a soldier missing at Gallipoli, in a motion for leave to swear to his death. 

His medical report on enlistment shows Larnach was 5 foot 8 tall (1.73 metres), weighed 144 pounds (65.3 kg) and had blue eyes and dark brown hair. Larnach was promoted to Sergeant on 23 January 1917 and embarked from Wellington with the 25th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company on 26 April 1917.

On arrival at Devonport in England on 20 July he proceeded to Sling Camp and received the inevitable automatic drop in rank to Corporal. This rank was confirmed on 28 August. He left for France with the Auckland Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion on 26 October and was in action on 7 November. He was attached to an Australian tunnellers division on 7 December before rejoining his unit on 4 January 1918. He was detached to Brigade School on 5 January and rejoined the battalion on 3 February.

On 26 or 27 March Larnach was killed in action during fighting around Hebuterne after New Zealand's forces had been rushed to Amiens to assist in repelling the German offensive. There was heavy fighting throughout the night of 26/27 March near the Serre Road and it is likely that this is when Larnach was killed.

He is remembered on the Auckland Lawyers' Memorial Tablet. 

Sources: Otago Daily Times, 22 December 1893, page 6; Otago Daily Times, 15 March 1899, page 7; Otago Daily Times, 3 November 1904, page 8; Otago Daily Times, 31 December 1904, page 11; Otago Daily Times, 31 March 1905, page 3; Otago Daily Times, 8 August 1905, page 5; New Zealand Herald, 29 June 1909, page 7; Otago Daily Times, 30 November 1911, page 5; Otago Daily Times, 29 July 1913, page 6; Otago Daily Times, 8 December 1913, page 8; New Zealand Herald, 23 September 1915, page 5; Auckland Star, 24 March 1916, page 6; Auckland Star, 5 June 1916, page 9; Press, 15 July 1916, page 8; Evening Post, 23 January 1917, page 4; Otago Daily Times, 20 April 1918, page 8; OE Burton, The Auckland Regiment (Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Auckland, 1922), pages 198-202. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

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 23rd April 2015