Artillery to be placed beside statue of war hero reportedly killed by artillery
He was famously killed by his own side's shell fire, and now the statue of World War I hero Colonel William Malone will be accompanied by another piece of New Zealand artillery.
Earlier this week the Stratford District Council voted unanimously to take over the guardianship of a World War II 25-pound howitzer that had sat outside the town's RSA for decades, and move it sit to beside the brass statue of Malone.
But Mike Boyle, whose grandfather served in the Auckland artillery regiment that may have fired the shot that killed Malone, said it seemed an ironic place to situate the gun.
In historian John Crawford's book No Better Death: The Great War Diaries and Letters of William G. Malone, the Stratford lawyer turned soldier's death on Chunuk Bair in Gallipoli was attributed to either supporting artillery or naval gunfire.
A number of Stratford councillors contacted on Friday afternoon acknowledged they hadn't considered how Malone was killed when deciding where to place the artillery piece.
Councillors Peter Dalziel and Grant Boyde, who moved to place it by the statue, both said they were still comfortable with that decision.
"I still don't have an issue with it being there," Boyde said.
"If it's brought back up at council I'd be happy to discuss it."
Dalziel said Malone was a Stratford war hero and an identity in the town, and having the gun beside his statue would boost it's profile of his statue.
"I think that it is great that a gun and Malone are side by side," he said.
"I think it's a great thing to have the gun being there as it'll draw more visitors to the statue of Colonel Malone."
Mayor Neil Volzke said putting the gun in the small park beside the statue would give it a lot of prominence, and make better use of the town's walkways.
He said it would be distasteful if the gun was pointing at Malone, but that wouldn't happen.
The gun is owned by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), but the council will be responsible for looking after the piece, which Volzke estimated had been in the town since at least 1979.
The council had proposed three locations for the gun: King Edward Park beside the Malone Memorial Gates, in front of the War Memorial Centre and in the reserve beside the Colonel Malone statue at the southern end of Broadway.
The NZDF said it wouldn't approve of putting it beside the Cross of Remembrance by the centre as it "could be seen as inappropriate, insensitive and had the potential to cause some angst by those visiting the area".
The statue sparked debate when it was originally unveiled, with many believing Malone's legs were shorter than they should of been. The statue then went missing and when it reappeared it was taller.