100 years ago tonight on 5 August 1915, Lieutenant Colonel William Malone wrote his last words to his beloved wife Ida on the eve of the Chunuk Bair campaign on Gallipoli.
Ida had travelled to Britain with their three small children to be nearer her husband. They hoped to meet on his next leave.
Malone wrote two letters from Quinn’s Post – one at 8.10pm and one around 10pm. Over the next two days he would lead his men, the Wellington Infantry Battalion, eventually taking the New Zealanders’ objective, the summit of Chunuk Bair.
Malone’s words are heartfelt and emotional, and reveal the loving husband and father behind the tough commander. The originals are now gone, but Malone’s carbon copies remain and are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Extracts can be seen and heard in Te Papa’s exhibition Gallipoli: The scale of our war, including the following:
Quinn’s Post, 8.10pm, 5/8/15
My sweetheart, in less than 2 hours, we move off to a valley, where we will be up all night and tomorrow in readiness for a big attack…. I expect to go through all right but, dear wife, if anything untoward happens to me, you must not grieve too much. There are our dear children to be brought up. You know how I love and have loved you, and we have had many years of great happiness together.
I am prepared for death, and hope God will have forgiven me all my sins.
My desire for life, so that I may see and be with you again, could not be greater, but I have only done what every man was bound to do in our country’s need. It has been a great consolation to me that you approved my action. The sacrifice was really yours. May you be consoled and rewarded by our dear Lord.
Your loving husband, W.G. MALONE
Malone led his men up to Chunuk Bair the next night. He was killed when hit by a New Zealand artillery shell on 8 August 1915.
Ida Malone was devastated by her husband’s death and mourned him until the end of her life. She was one of 1.35 million people in the British Empire who received the Memorial plaque (nicknamed ‘Dead Man’s Penny’) after losing a loved one in the war.
Find out more
Malone’s Story – Gallipoli: The scale of our war website
His Family’s Loss – Gallipoli: The scale of our war website
Chunuk Bair – Gallipoli: The scale of our war website