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No Better Death: The Great War diaries and letters of William G. Malone.

NO BETTER DEATH The Great War diaries and letters of William G. Malone

Editor: John Crawford with Peter Cooke Published by: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd in association with the New Zealand Defence Force, Auckland, 2005, 376pp, $49.99.

Fifty-six-year-old William Malone met his death on Chunuk Bait on 8 August 1915, a little over a year after he volunteered for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. A Taranaki farmer and lawyer, he had long prepared himself for active service--and he took his opportunity with evident relish. As commanding officer of the Wellington Infantry Battalion, he was a hard taskmaster, but determined to prepare his men for the trials ahead. The results were apparent at Gallipoli, where the New Zealanders landed on 25 April 1915. Malone proved himself one of the most effective officers in the Anzac sector, not merely in his approach to military tasks but also in his refusal at times to carry out orders that would have led to suicidal attacks. Like Howard Kippenberger in a later conflict, he was a citizen-soldier who proved himself better than many of the professionals.

Although there is a memorial gate to Malone in Stratford and a plaque in Wellington Cathedral (and now one in Parliament as well), there was a feeling that he had not received fitting recognition for his service. Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton has in recent years led the way in canvassing means of providing this recognition. The New Zealand Defence Force's decision to publish Malone's letters and diaries to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign has provided a fitting memorial to Malone. Malone's writings provide many insights into the creation, dispatch and initial operations of the NZEE as they do also about Malone himself--as a family man, as an amateur soldier committed to mastering the military profession, and as a New Zealand nationalist.

Defence Historian John Crawford, ably assisted by researcher Peter Cooke, has done an excellent job in ferreting out the various documents and putting together this collection. His comprehensive introduction provides an admirable summary of Malone's life prior to joining the NZEE, indicating his prominent place in the Taranaki community. Malone's willingness to contribute to public affairs is evident--he twice stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament. The book carries numerous photographs, a number of them taken by Malone and never before published. Helpful notes explain unusual allusions or provide additional information about persons, places or events mentioned by Malone. This book will appeal to anyone interested in New Zealand's involvement in the Great War and in one man's perspective on momentous events.

Dr Ian McGibbon, the NZIR's Managing Editor, edited the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (2000)

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Author:McGibbon, Ian
Publication:New Zealand International Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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