New Zealand Law Society - William George Malone, 1859 - 1915

William George Malone, 1859 - 1915

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William Malone was killed in action during the assault on Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915. He was aged 56. His body was not recovered and he is remembered on the Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial, Chunuk Bair Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey.

William was born on 24 January 1859 at Rushey Green, Lewisham, Kent in England. His parents were Louisa Childs and Thomas Augustine Malone. His father was a chemist and died in 1867. William was educated at Marist brother boarding schools in England and France, completing his schooling in France in 1876 when he returned to England to work in an office. He also enlisted in the City of Westminster Rifle Volunteers, beginning a close association with the military that was to last throughout his life. 

Malone emigrated to New Zealand in 1880, arriving in Taranaki to join his brother Austin. He joined the Armed Constabulary and served at Opunake, taking part in the attack on Parihaka in November 1881. He resigned from the Armed Constabulary in 1882 and worked in surf-boats and lightering on the Taranaki coast before joining his brother Austin in taking up land.

On 27 November 1886 he married Elinor Lucy Penn at New Plymouth. The couple had four sons and a daughter before Elinor died in child birth on 18 June 1904. On 11 September 1905 in Christchurch Malone married Ida Katherine Withers, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.

Malone settled on a large block of land at Puniwhakau near Stratford and he became prominent in local affairs. On 27 January 1891 he was appointed the first clerk, treasurer and collector of Stratford County Council. He also carried out functions such as acting coroner and Registrar of Dogs. About 1890 he began a business in Stratford as a land and commission agent. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace on 14 December 1892. He also began to study law, passing his final law examination in March 1894 and being admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court on 19 April 1894. He qualified as a barrister in 1899. 

Once he had been admitted Malone set up a legal practice in Stratford. He was solicitor for the Stratford County Council and continued this association over the next 15 years. In February 1903, Malone and two other Stratford lawyers, James McVeagh and WD Anderson, formed a partnership and decided to open an office in New Plymouth. At first it was announced that Malone would shift to New Plymouth to run the new branch, but this was quickly corrected to stress that he would remain in Stratford. However, he did move to New Plymouth for a few years to practice law. While there he ran for Parliament for the Taranaki electorate as an independent Liberal in 1907 and 1908 but was not successful. He promoted a vigorous land settlement policy, with development of roading across the country. Malone also opposed party government, being reported in one election speech as saying if the London County Council, handling five million people could do without party government, surely a small country like New Zealand with less than a million could do without it.

As a lawyer he acted for many businesses. He appeared in the Magistrate's Court in Stratford and in 1912 was involved in a character-illuminating spat with another prominent Stratford lawyer and formidable litigator, Robert Spence (who was also killed in the war). After Spence alleged an apparently improper action by Malone in a contested debt, Malone flared up, saying: "I have stood a good deal in this court from my friend. He has no business to insult me. He blares away at me in the court week after week! I put up with it good-naturedly, but I will not have him assume some improper act on my behalf." After some earnest discussion and intervention by the Magistrate the court was adjourned. Spence returned to apologise but complained that Malone had deliberately interrupted his examination of the debtor. Malone was not happy and stated that he would not appear again before the Magistrate until Spence properly apologised.

Malone's involvement in military matters continued. A territorial Rifle Corps was formed in 1900 with Malone selected as Captain. In 1910 he was Lieutenant Colonel and commanding officer of the 4th Battalion Wellington (Taranaki) Rifle Volunteers. He was appointed to command the 11th Regiment (Taranaki Rifles) in 1911. Malone was apparently responsible for introduction of the lemon squeezer hat, according to Christopher Pugsley. At the annual territorial camp in 1911 he introduced it as the regimental hat, with the purpose of mirroring the outline of Mount Egmont/Taranaki and also allowing for run-off in the rain. The lemon squeezer was adopted by the New Zealand military in September 1916.

When war began in August 1914 Malone and his three sons volunteered at once. He was appointed to command the Wellington Infantry Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His military medical examination report shows he was 5 foot 11 tall (1.8 metres), weighed 160 pounds (72.6 kg) and had hazel eyes and brown hair.

After a period of training he embarked from Wellington on 16 October 1914, arriving in Suez in Egypt on 3 December. He then put his troops through several months of rigorous training before being involved in the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. During the next few months fighting Malone was mentioned in despatches twice.

On 7 August 1915 the Wellington Battalion secured the Apex on Rhododendron Ridge, 500 metres below the infantry brigade's objective of Chunuk Bair. Malone refused to carry on the attack in daylight after witnessing the annihilation of the Auckland Battalion, and led his battalion to seize Chunuk Bair at dawn on 8 August. The Turks counterattacked at daylight and at 5pm supporting artillery fire "probably from a New Zealand howitzer battery" burst over Malone's trench and killed him.

New Zealand was plunged into grief with the news of the heroic death of Malone. An obituary in the Taranaki Daily News said he was an ideal soldier and a typical colonist. "Possessing unbounded energy, intense zeal in whatever he undertook, and possessed of intellectual gifts far above the average, he has made his way to a high position, both in the State and in the army, but means of his own ability and force of character, and endeared himself to everyone who knew him." 

The Magistrate before whom Malone had several years earlier vowed he would not appear, WG Kendrick SM, paid tribute to Malone before business commenced at the Stratford Magistrate's Court on 13 August 1915. Kendrick said Malone was held in great esteem by the Bar, and his uniform courtesy, tact and good taste were admired by all whom he came in contact with. 

Malone is remembered in his home town of Stratford with the Malone Memorial Gates. The impressive stone gates are at the Fenton Street entrance to King Edward Park. A lone pine tree stands near the gates. This was grown from a seedling brought back from Gallipoli. On 20 November 2011 a bronze statue of Malone by Fridtjof Hanson on the corner of Broadway and Page Streets in Stratford was unveilled.

Sources: Hawera and Normanby Star, 25 October 1882, page 2; Hawera and Normanby Star, 18 September 1883, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 21 January 1889, page 3; Taranaki Herald, 27 January 1891, page 2; Evening Post, 29 January 1891, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 22 January 1892, page 2; Wanganui Chronicle, 15 December 1892, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 2 March 1894, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 8 March 1894, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 10 July 1896, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 2 September 1896, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 27 October 1900, page 2; Taranaki Herald, 4 February 1903, page 5; Taranaki Herald, 6 February 1903, page 6;  Taranaki Herald, 11 May 1907, page 2; Hawera and Normanby Star, 16 April 1912, page 3; Taranaki Daily News, 18 April 1912, page 3; Taranaki Daily News, 5 June 1913, page 4; Evening Post, 31 December 1913, page 10; Evening Post, 13 August 1914, page 2; Taranaki Daily News, 13 August 1915, page 3; Taranaki Daily News, 14 August 1915, page 3; Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Volume 2, 1901-1920 (Auckland University Press, Department of Internal Affairs, 1996), "William George Malone" by Chris Pugsley, pages 326-328.

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.

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By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed:

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