Wellington College war medals and memories

Oscar Gallie DSO, MC

Wellington College's most decorated old boy was Bernard Freyberg, New Zealand's Second World War commander and Governor-General from 1946 to 1952. Fighting with the British forces, he received numerous awards and was wounded on several occasions both at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. During the final stages of the first Battle of the Somme, he was awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) – Britain’s highest military award – for his actions in the capture of Beaucourt village. The school acknowledged his achievements by giving the boys a day off. The Freyberg family paid a high price for their war service – two of Bernard’s brothers, Oscar and Paul, were killed.

The family and friends of each of the 40 college old boys killed in Belgium would have regarded them as heroes. Some, like the Gallie brothers, were subsequently recognised through various trophies that kept them alive in the memory and life of the school. The Gallie Shield is awarded to the form with the highest involvement in sports per member.

Oscar Gallie received the double of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Military Cross (MC). He was killed in action near Ypres on 9 December 1917. The citation for his MC praised his 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During hostile shelling of his battery position, an ammunition dump in a building was set on fire. This officer rushed in on his own initiative and displayed the greatest gallantry in stifling the flames. As some of the ammunition had already exploded, and the remainder might have done so at any moment, his pluck and devotion to duty cannot be too highly praised.’ 

Oscar’s brother Victor also received a double decoration: the DSO and the French Croix de Guerre. Victor had been a member of the college’s highly successful 1st XV of 1909. He was severely wounded on the Western Front in 1917 and died from these injuries over a decade later in 1929. The long-term consequences of injuries sustained while fighting are sometimes forgotten, masking the full cost of the war in human lives and suffering.

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Wellington College war medals and memories

What do you know?

admin

Posted: 29 Mar 2009

Hmm, not so sure this is the same John Gallie - you might be thinking of a Major in the American Civil War? You are correct that their father's name was John though. I wonder if it is this guy?: John Gallie - he was born 1854 so could even have been their grandfather. According to this site Oscar was born in Dunedin. The boys' uncle was Major A.R. Hislop of Wellington.

Anonymous

Posted: 29 Mar 2009

His fathers name isnt put here his name was John Gallie and i think was in the war as well i cant be that sure but i think because there may of been an award. His name cameup a lot when i typed it into GOOGLE??? thanks