Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone (1859-1915) outside his bivouac on Walker's Ridge. Malone, a Stratford farmer and lawyer, commanded the Wellington Battalion at Gallipoli.
The Wellington Battalion landed at Anzac Cove on 25-26 April 1915. Malone soon began to impose order, transforming weak defensive positions along the Anzac perimeter into strong garrisons. Between June and August, he helped consolidate critical positions at Courtney’s Post and Quinn’s Post, where a small advance by the Ottomans would have threatened the entire line.
Malone’s diary entries record his growing disenchantment with his superiors and the conduct of the campaign. His demands on behalf of his men brought him into conflict with the New Zealand Infantry Brigade’s commander, Colonel Francis Johnston.
During the Sari Bair offensive in August, Malone led his battalion in the seizure of the Apex on Rhododendron Ridge, but refused to follow up a disastrous attack by the Auckland Battalion on Chunuk Bair, insisting that he would not send his men ‘over to commit suicide’. The next morning, 8 August, the Wellington Battalion captured the summit with little difficulty. Throughout the day, they threw back fierce Ottoman counter-attacks in fighting that left most of the battalion dead or wounded. Malone excelled in this desperate situation, leading his men in driving the enemy back until he was killed by artillery fire, probably from a New Zealand howitzer, around 5 p.m.
Following his death, senior officers tried to make Malone a scapegoat for the subsequent loss of Chunuk Bair and the failure of the offensive. Historians, notably Christopher Pugsley in Gallipoli: The New Zealand story (1984), have since refuted claims that Malone failed to entrench his men to best advantage on the summit.
Malone, the citizen soldier impatient with the incompetence of British regulars, has come to symbolise the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli. He is commemorated by a memorial gate and statue at Stratford.