Historian looks to shed light on home life of Gallipoli hero
A Wellington historian is attempting to gain deeper insights into one of Taranaki's greatest war heroes.
For a year, Jock Vennell has been trawling through archives across the lower North Island as he compiles a biography of Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone.
Colonel Malone was killed on Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli in 1915.
However, Mr Vennell said little was known about Colonel Malone's life before and soon after he emigrated to New Zealand - "his impressions as a pioneering settler in Taranaki, the struggles he had breaking in virgin rainforest, the work he did to train volunteer militia units, the setting up of his law practice, his family life and so on."
Mr Vennell said he wanted to hear from Taranaki folk who might have letters, diaries, family memories or photographs.
"All contributions gratefully received and properly cared for."
He said the depth of the "multi-talented" man would surprise many.
"He was a farmer, lawyer, local body administrator, classical musician, representative rugby player, keen gardener, devoted husband and family man. A wealthy man himself, he was also a stout defender of the poor and unemployed."
Mr Vennell said his book would also address the most controversial feature of Colonel Malone's command at Gallipoli - his tactics on Chunuk Bair .
"The official history subsequently blamed him for the loss of the position and the battle itself, because he allegedly sited his defences on a rear slope of the crest rather than on the summit where he would have had full view of the Turks massing for the attack.
"Eyewitness accounts of the battle have since refuted this version of events and exonerated Malone, but decades too late for him to be considered for a posthumous Victoria Cross."
The book, which will be published by independent publisher Allen & Unwin, is being supported by a grant from the Army Museum Literary Trust and is due in April 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli.
Mr Vennell can be contacted via email@example.com or 04 971 5249.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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