New Zealand Law Society - Five lawyers died during battle for Chunuk Bair

Five lawyers died during battle for Chunuk Bair

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Five lawyers were among over 800 soldiers who were killed while serving in the New Zealand forces during the battle for Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli from 6 to 10 August 1915.

The one hundredth anniversary of the battle is being commemorated this week. It began during the night of 6-7 August 1915 when New Zealand forces attempted to capture Chunuk Bair, one of three high points on the Sari Bair range.

The attack was ultimately unsuccessful, although the New Zealanders reached their objective and held off determined Turkish attacks. Chunuk Bair was recaptured on 10 August after a massive Turkish counter-attack overthrew the British batallions which had relieved the New Zealand forces.

Ten New Zealand lawyers died during the fighting at Gallipoli in 1915, with half of them killed during the Chunk Bair offensive. More detailed information on the five lawyer soldiers can be found by following the link on their name.

Lieutenant Colonel William Malone was killed by allied gunfire about 5pm on 8 August after leading the Wellington Batallion to occupy the summit. Malone was aged 56 when he died. After emigrating from England and working as a land and commission agent in Taranaki, he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand on 19 April 1894. He set up a legal practice in Stratford and was solicitor for the Stratford County Council for many years.

Major George Mayne was killed in action on 8 August while trying to rally a group of English Territorials who had lost their officer. Mayne was born in Christchurch and was aged 32 when he died. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1907. After practising in Christchurch and Kaikoura, he moved to Gisborne to work for the firm of de Latour, Barker, Stock and Matthews and was there when war broke out. He volunteered for service immediately.

Lieutenant George Tayler was killed on 8 August during fighting to hold Rhododendron Ridge just below the summit. He was aged 25. Born in Eltham, Tayler was admitted as a solicitor in February 1914 and worked at Eltham for the firm Syme and Weir. He enlisted shortly after war broke out.

Corporal John Persse was killed in action on 8 August, aged 33. He was born in County Galway, Ireland and studied law at Trinity College in Dublin. After practising in Ireland Persse emigrated to New Zealand in 1911 and was a school teacher before being admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. He was employed by the Napier firm of Cotterill and Humphries to manage its Hastings branch and appeared regularly in the Napier and Hastings Magistrates' Courts.

Major James Houlker died of wounds on the hospital ship Valdivia off Gallipoli at 3:15pm 10 August. He was aged 35 and had been wounded in the knee at 10:30am on 7 August. He died after waiting two days on the beach for medical attention. Houlker was born in England, his family emigrating while he was a child. He was admitted as a solicitor on 13 March 1904 and practised in Nelson before moving to Timaru. He returned to Nelson in 1907 and in 1910 became a partner in the firm Maginnity Son and Houlker. He volunteered for service on the outbreak of war.

All five lawyer soldiers have no known grave. Major Houlker was buried at sea and Lieutenant Colonel Malone, Major Mayne, Lieutenant Tayler and Corporal Persse are all commemorated on the Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial at Chunuk Bair Cemetery in Turkey.

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