William George Malone was one of New Zealand’s outstanding soldiers of the Gallipoli campaign. Born in Kent in 1859, Malone was 21 years old when he arrived in Taranaki to join his elder brother. He served with the Armed Constabulary at Ōpunake and Parihaka before taking up a farm near Stratford.
Malone was active in local affairs as chairman and member of several boards and councils. In the early 1890s, with his family expanding, Malone studied law at night after farming during the day. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1894.
It is for his military achievements that William Malone is best known. During the South African War he helped raise the Stratford Rifle Volunteers and served as captain. By 1910 he was a lieutenant-colonel and commanding officer of 4th Battalion, Wellington (Taranaki) Rifle Volunteers.
On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Malone was appointed to command the Wellington Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The oldest man in the battalion, he was ‘fit, hard & well’, almost six feet tall and of solid build. He had spent 15 years reading military history and strategy, and was achieving a lifelong ambition by going to war. In training in Egypt in late 1914 and early 1915 he drove his battalion mercilessly, working his men harder and longer than those of any other battalion in the New Zealand infantry brigade.
Following the mismanaged landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915, Malone immediately began to impose order. He consolidated and secured the ANZAC Corps perimeter whenever it was threatened. His diaries over the course of the campaign chart a growing disenchantment with impractical British regular officers, and a growing love for his men.
On 8 August 1915 Malone’s battalion seized the strategic heights of Chunuk Bair. There Malone was accidentally killed by supporting artillery fire. The tenacity displayed by the Wellington Battalion in the face of the overwhelming odds they were up against that day embodied the spirit of their commanding officer.
Adapted by Matthew Tonks from the DNZB biography by Christopher Pugsley