Colonel's courage gets its due - 90 years later

The bravery of New Zealand war hero Colonel William Malone was honoured in Parliament yesterday, nine decades after his death.

Prime Minister Helen Clark unveiled a plaque in Parliament's Grand Hall commemorating the colonel, 90 years to the day after he led the Wellington Regiment in an assault on Chunuk Bair during the World War I Gallipoli campaign.

Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton campaigned for 15 years for recognition of Colonel Malone.

"It struck me as deep injustice that his heroism had gone unrecognised.

"Worse, he was even blamed for the failure of his mission to take a hold Chunuk Bair," he said.

Colonel Malone led the Wellington Infantry Battalion on a night march up the rugged Chunuk Bair.

The heights were taken without a single casualty, but the 760 men came under ferocious attacks from Turkish troops on three sides

When other New Zealand troops arrived to relieve them at the end of the day only 76 were not killed or wounded. Colonel Malone was among the dead, believed to have been killed by friendly fire.

His great-grandson Denis Malone attended the unveiling and said the colonel had left for the war at the age of 56, driven by a sense of destiny.

He did not gain a victory but he did help forge New Zealanders' sense of identity, Mr Malone said.

Helen Clark said Colonel Malone and his men were courageous and determined soldiers, but it was less well known that he had played an important part in the development of Taranaki. also ran twice for Parliament as an independent liberal. He was unsuccessful, but refused to run on the official Liberal ticket because he did not want to compromise his views.

Mr Anderton said Colonel Malone's courage and qualities as a person were an inspiration to all New Zealanders.

"It is impossible to read his story without admiring the man and his leadership.

"In some ways New Zealand's identity as a nation was forged that night on Chunuk Bair and Colonel Malone's leadership was an example of every quality New Zealanders admire in ourselves."

Colonel Malone is buried in an unknown grave.

Last night, the Prime Minister launched No Better Death, Colonel Malone's World War I diaries and letters.

- NZPA

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