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Malone Plaque installed

Hon Jim Anderton

2/02/2006

Malone Plaque installed

Sixteen years is quite a long time to wait to attach a memorial plaque to a wall, but that’s how long Cabinet Minister Jim Anderton had to wait to see a memorial to Colonel William Malone, hero of Chunuk Bair go up in Parliament’s main foyer. “Mind you,” Jim quips, “Colonel Malone had to wait much longer. It took ninety years in his case.”

Malone led the Wellington Battalion at Gallipoli and in August 1915, having seen his Auckland counterparts slaughtered in a daylight frontal assault on Chunuk Bair hill, risked battlefield execution by refusing to lead his men forward on the same suicidal mission. Instead he took them up the steep slope under cover of darkness without loss and captured the commanding height from which his men could see the glitter of the Dardanelles, the ultimate objective, and the furthest into Gallipoli of any advance. Unfortunately the men, despite a brave fight, which lasted more than a day, were driven off the hill with severe casualties, including Malone himself.

“When I first encountered this story,” says Anderton, “I was astonished that Malone, although mentioned in despatches, was not decorated for this feat. But the more I looked into it the more I became aware that Malone’s act of what was seen as insubordination had marked him as a maverick, and that this may very well have denied him his due. We certainly had an uphill struggle, although not as fiercely contested as Malone’s own to get him this memorial.”

“Of course, what it was really all about was Malone’s refusal to sacrifice 'my boys' as Malone himself put it, uselessly and, as he described it ‘to give my brave men their best chance.’ He deserves to be remembered as one of the first iconic New Zealanders for that act alone if for nothing else.”

The plaque itself was unveiled in August last year by the Prime Minister, but because of the refurbishment of the Beehive, and a continuing discussion about where it might appropriately be located, it was not fixed to its present position until a few days ago. It now joins a large painting of the action at Chunuk Bair, and a memorial to Members of Parliament killed in war in Parliament’s main foyer.

“A very fitting location,” was Jim Anderton’s response. “I’m delighted by the outcome, although if I’d known it was going to take sixteen years I might never have set out on the journey. It’s been one of the most difficult of all of my achievements as a Member and Minister”.

ENDS

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