At a shade under six foot (1.8m), Major Clyde McGilp cut an imposing figure whether on horseback, or standing beside a field gun.
An artillery expert, Russell-born McGilp first experienced action in South Africa at the turn of the century, serving as a raw 19-year-old in the Boer War.
Returning to New Zealand, McGilp, a trained telegraphist, continued his military service. He was one of the "A" Battery commanders when a 101-gun royal salute in Auckland's Albert Park backfired in June 1911, injuring three soldiers and a spectator.
The injured troops were standing beside their 15-pound (6.8kg) field gun when gunpowder in the weapon exploded, blowing off Gunner Richard Bartleet's left hand and burning his face.
Two other soldiers were burned, and a spectator, drawn to the action, suffered an eye wound. A second spectator at the park had suffered a head gash when the blast of the guns caused a gas-light to shatter, the broken glass falling on the observer.
McGilp, approached by a Herald correspondent, "preferred to say nothing regarding the cause of the accident", the newspaper reported. The salute continued despite the mishaps and the incident did not appear to affect McGilp's career.
When war broke out, McGilp was handed command of the 1st Battery of the 1st Brigade, NZ Field Artillery for the Gallipoli campaign.
McGilp started a war diary, which is deposited with the National Library and can be viewed online. In a detailed account of the disastrous campaign on the rugged peninsula, Major McGilp recounts his daily rounds of infantry positions, observations of Ottoman troops and the state of his own unit.
McGilp's diary includes diagrams of firing positions, illustrations showing Turkish positions, small black and white photographs -- one shows the grave of a gunner killed by a direct hit from the enemy side -- and records his concern for horses used to haul supplies and guns.
His entry for June 20, 1915 says: "123 in shade -- No overhead cover for horses. Capt Primmer [Jacob Primmer of the NZ Veterinary Corps] and self do utmost to improve conditions but authorities in Alex were not prepared for eventualities in Gallipoli following landing ... We must rest them."
On November 14 McGilp mentions a visit by Britain's Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, and a number of "brass hats" to the battery's post on Walker's Ridge. "Rough country," remarks Kitchener, familiar from the recruiting posters with the plea "Your country needs you!".
McGilp records that he was asked during the visit to direct fire towards a spot known as the Apex. The New Zealander says he refused, knowing it would only draw return fire and cause a "regrettable incident" involving "K of K" -- a reference to the commander's title Kitchener of Khartoum.
As the doomed Gallipoli campaign wound down, McGilp and his artillery unit prepared to evacuate by burying or destroying surplus stores and ammunition. He supervised the dismantling of the guns, sending a final shell in the direction of enemy forces on December 19.
After the evacuation, McGilp's 1st Battery headed to France and the Western Front, where they saw action at the Somme. McGilp was twice mentioned in dispatches for his gallantry and was awarded the DSO.
His citation noted that even when his battery came under heavy attack, McGilp performed "with great coolness and decision".
Wounded twice, he became ill with enteric fever and bronchitis and was declared unfit to serve.
In July 1918, McGilp returned to New Zealand with his wife, Jeanne Aquitina, who he married in Egypt in December 1917.
Back home, McGilp became an artillery instructor at Featherston Military Camp.
On November 14, 1918, three days after the armistice was signed, McGilp died of pneumonia during the great flu epidemic. The 35-year-old was buried at Featherston cemetery.