Colin Hally was killed in action fighting on the Somme in France on 6 April 1918. He was aged 25. He is buried at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France.
Colin was born on 24 June 1891 at Cambridge. His parents were Elizabeth and James Hally. His father was a solicitor and a councillor on the Cambridge Borough Council. He went to Cambridge School and then to Cambridge High School. He performed well both academically and in sports, playing cricket and rugby. While at primary school he passed the junior national scholarship and won a free place at secondary school. He passed the Civil Service examination in February 1908.
On leaving school Hally enrolled with Auckland University College and began to study law. He was employed by the law firm Parr and Blomfield. While in Auckland he continued to play rugby and enjoyed life as a student. "Better known as 'Comet' Hally, he was for some time on the staff of Parr and Blomfield, and at that time used to be a leading light in the University capping ceremony; in fact, anything with fun attached to it was apt to attract him," the Observer later noted.
Hally returned to the Waikato and worked at his father's firm while he completed his law qualifications. He played rugby for the Cambridge representative team and was also involved in the Cambridge Amateur Swimming Club. He passed his final solicitor's examination in December 1913 and was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand shortly afterwards. He moved to Morrinsville after his admission and went into legal practice on his own. He captained the Morrinsville rugby team and in 1915 was also captain of the Piako rugby representative team.
In October 1915 Hally enlisted. A gathering of about 50 residents in the Royal Hotel in Morrinsville farewelled him and he was presented with a wrist watch by the Morrinsville Rugby Union. He proceeded to Trentham Camp with the Auckland Infantry Battalion and was quickly promoted to corporal. His medical examination described him as 5 foot 9 in height (1.75 metres), 158 pounds (71.7 kg) and with greyish blue eyes and brown hair. In December 1915 he was promoted to sergeant.
Hally embarked from Wellington on 27 May 1916, the same day he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. "During the voyage he instituted a Mock Parliament, when, acting as Leader of the House, he gave a beautiful imitation of one William Massey, and had the crowd roaring continuously," a profile in the Observer said.
Arriving at Devonport, England on 26 July 1916 he spent a month at Sling Camp before going to France on 26 August and moving to the front line on 3 October with the Second Auckland Battalion. During the fighting near Armentieres he earned the Military Cross. This was announced in the London Gazette on 9 December 1916: "For conspicuous gallantry in action. He organised and led a successful raid on the enemy's trenches, displaying great courage and determination throughout."
A more interesting account appeared in Auckland's Observer newspaper several months later: "Recognised by New Zealand soldiers as really deserving the Military Cross awarded him is Colin Hally, formerly on the staff of Parr and Blomfield, but more recently practising on his own account at Morrinsville. 'Coll' is a cheerful cuss, and is well remembered by Auckland Varsity students as being well to the fore when any fun was going. He went into camp with the tenth reinforcements, and was a sergeant in A Coy. In due course he secured his commission, and left the Dominion with A Coy, 13th reinforcements. He was in time for the Somme, where he lost one of his pals of the tenth - Second Lieutenant Stan Esam, well known in Auckland, but it was not until later that he won his decoration. Shortly after the New Zealanders got settled down on their new front, 'Col' took charge of a raid which made rather a mess of Fritz's belongings, and it was for his work in this connection that he was singled out for distinction. Since then he has been transferred to a machine gun company along with Second Lieutenant Dave Lundon, another of the young legal fraternity from the Waikato." (Observer, 7 April 1917, page 4).
In March 1917 the Waikato Times reported that a letter from Hally to a friend in Morrinsville said that "with the exception of a broken nose received while playing football" he was enjoying excellent health. That did not last. On 22 July he was admitted to hospital in Boulogne, moving to another hospital in Etaples a couple of days later and he was not discharged until 20 September. It is not known what his illness was. The Observer later commented: "He cursed volubly when he was put into hospital just before the Messines go..."
Hally was to return to hospital. On 6 November he was admitted to hospital "sick" and transferred to an English hospital on 18 November. He was there until 12 December when he was discharged and he remained in England until 18 February 1918 when he returned to France.
During this he was promoted to full Lieutenant, from 27 November 1917, but this was not notified until 4 July 1918. By then he was dead. Hally was killed in action on 6 April 1918 in France. This followed a day of heavy fighting near Colincamps on 5 April when the New Zealanders reportedly experienced the worst artillery bombardment of the War and fought off several German attacks.
The history of the Machine Gun Corps recorded Hally's death as follows: "The weather was very bad on the 6th, and the gunners were hampered at their positions by rain and mud. Unfortunately, Lieut Colin Hally, MC, was killed on this day. Hally's work had been very conspicuous at all times since his transfer to the Corps. His decoration was won in the Auckland Regiment for gallant conduct in a raid against the enemy trenches. A short while before his death he found an enemy map showing the objectives of the great offensive."
Colin Hally is remembered on the Cambridge War Memorial and his name is on the Hamilton District Law Society plaque remembering lawyers from the region who died during the war.
Sources: New Zealand Herald, 22 December 1902, page 7; Waikato Times, 19 February 1904, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 22 January 1906, page 4; Auckland Star, 6 February 1908, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 27 June 1910, page 7; New Zealand Herald, 10 October 1913, page 9; New Zealand Herald, 24 December 1913, page 6; New Zealand Herald, 6 October 1915, page 12; New Zealand Herald, 14 December 1915, page 10; Auckland Star, 1 March 1916, page 7; New Zealand Gazette, 25 May 1916; London Gazette, Sixth Supplement, 9 December 1916; Evening Post, 2 February 1917, page 7; Waikato Times, 15 March 1917, page 6; Observer, 7 April 1917, page 4; Thames Star, 22 April 1918, page 2; Observer, 27 April 1918, page 4; New Zealand Gazette, 4 July 1918; JH Luxford, With the Machine Gunners in France and Palestine (Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Auckland, 1923), page 126.
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.
By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: email@example.com.