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Anzac Day and the All Blacks

James Mortimer     25 Apr 2012    

This crucial passage was where the Allied Forces were trying to wrest control of Constantinople – arguably the core objective of the Gallipoli Campaign - and thus gain control of the sea through to Russia (via the Bosphorus strait).

This key theatre in the First World War was considered a major loss by the Allies to the Ottoman forces, responsible for a massive casualty rate where an estimated 8,709 soldiers died during the landing on the now named Anzac Cove, while the overall campaign is thought to have cost each side over quarter of million, with nearly sixty percent of the respective forces perishing in one of the most destructive conflicts in our history.

Two All Blacks died at Gallipoli (Albert Downing and Henry Dewar) in August, five months after the first troops landed on the soil of the Ottoman Empire.

A further four would be killed in the battle for Messines in 1917, while one of the most heralded All Blacks and soldiers who gave his life was Sergeant (Auckland Infantry Regiment) Dave Gallaher.

Gallaher etched his name into All Blacks folklore when guiding the 'Originals' on their famous tour of Britain, France and North America.

The popular captain was no stranger to war, having lied about his age so he could be enlisted to serve in the South African War of 1901.

He played his rugby for Auckland, while often turning out for his beloved Ponsonby, and made his international debut against Australia in Sydney in 1903, and the following year was in the New Zealand side that defeated the touring British Isles 9-3 in Wellington.

When Gallaher was appointed captain in 1905 to tour the North, some factions felt he may have been too old, and opinion towards the Irish-born forward continued to be mixed when it was reported he enforced a brutal training regime on the ship to Britain.

Still, when the action began on the field, these concerns faded, as the inspirational captain led by example, while the All Blacks as a team began to garner popular debate – in particular for their controversial use of a ‘wing forward’.

With a two-three-two scrum, the wing forward effectively played detached, and Gallaher made this position his own and implemented two of the All Blacks great historical strengths.

Forwards who were confident with ball in hand, rather than just playing and stationing at the set piece (as was the wont in the North at the time); while Gallaher was one of the instruments in the All Blacks Originals turning defence into attack with devastating speed.

While media in the North didn’t know what to make of these players that played as if they were ‘All Backs’, one popular Fleet Street publication said that the at times charming Gallaher was the epitome of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

The Originals would win 32 of 33 matches, with the defeat against Wales their only blemish.

Gallaher, who worked at a Freezing Works in Auckland when not playing rugby, enlisted for service again, and was killed during the attack on Gravenstafel Spur in Belgium on October 4, 1917.

He is buried at the Nine Elms British Cemetery, in Poperinge at West-Vlaanderen in Belgium.

Due to his colourful embellishment of his age during conscription, the grave marks his age as 41, when in fact it was closer to 44.

Auckland rugby commemorates one of their first rugby sons with the Gallaher Shield in club competition (in place since 1922), while the All Blacks contest the Dave Gallaher trophy when they play France – inaugurated in 2000.

The Anzac Corps, which were formed in Egypt in 1915, comprising troops from the First Australian Imperial Force and the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force – had a complete division with the New Zealand Infantry Brigade and the Australian 1st Division, while the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the Australian 1st Light Horse Brigade were other key units involved.

While these Anzac Corps were officially disbanded in 1916 after the Allies evacuated the Gallipoli Peninsula, the formation of the First and Second Anzac Corps (I and II) constituted the remaining placement of troops throughout the War.

Overall thirteen All Blacks died in action during this massive conflict.

We will remember them.

The All Blacks who perished during the First World War

JAMES ALEXANDER STEENSON BAIRD

Born 16 December 1893, Dunedin
Parents Not known
Education Possibly Cavernsham, Dunedin
Physical 5' 9" - 168 lbs

Province Otago Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Zingari-Richmond, Dunedin, 1913 AB# 190 Position Center Three-quarter All Black Debut 13 September 1913 v Australia, Dunedin aged 19 International Debut 13 Septemeber 1913 v Australia, Dunedin

Rank Private, 4(D) Company, 1st Battalion, Otago Regiment Serial Number 29720 Died Thursday, 7 June 1917, France Age 23 Grave Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension Ref: CCE 3B265

ROBERT STANLEY BLACK

Born 24 August 1893, Arrowtown, NZ
Parents Harry and Emily L. Black, 57 Prince Albert Rd, Dunedin. Another listing has the address, 6 Grant St, Dunedin
Education Otago Boy's High
Physical 5' 5" 161 lbs

Province Otago Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Westport White Star, Westport, 1914 AB# 211 Position First five-eighth All Black Debut 11 July 1914 v N.S.W, Australia aged 20 International Debut 18 July 1914 v Australia, Sydney

Rank Private, 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment Serial Number 9/2048 Died Thursday, 21 September 1916, Longueval, France Age 23 Grave No known grave but is recorded on the Caterpillar Valley Memorial near Longueval, France.

HENRY DEWAR

Born 24 Oct 1883, Foxton
Parents Alexander & Lydia Dewar, 11 Linton St, Palmerston North
Education Berhampore School, Wellington.
Physical 1.81m, 83kg

Province Taranaki Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Stratford, 1913. AB# 175 Position Loose Forward All Black Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 29 International Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington, aged 29 Last Test 15 November 1913 v USA at Berkeley aged 30

Rank Sergeant, 9th Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles Serial Number 11/448 Died Monday, 9 August 1915, Gallipoli Age 31 Grave Listed on Chunuk Bair Memorial REF: Panel 4, no known grave.

ERNEST HENRY DODD

Born 21 Mar 1880, Wellington
Parents Frederick Henery & Ada Mary Dodd
Education Wellington College.
Physical Height 5' 9"

Province Wellington Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Wellington COB. AB# 83 Position Hooker All Black Debut 28 August 1901 v Wellington, Wellington aged 21 International Debut 2 September 1905 v Australia, Dunedin, aged 25. Last Test 2 September 1905 v Australia at Dunedin aged 25.

Rank Lance Sergeant, 2nd Battalion, 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade Serial Number 54336 Died Wednesday, 11 September 1918, France Age 38 Grave Metz-en-Couture Communal Cemetery Ref: IV.B.16.

ALBERT JOSEPH DOWNING

Born 12 July 1886, Napier
Parents Mr & Mrs John Downing, Port Ahuriri, Napier
Education Napier Boys High.
Physical 1.83m 89kg

Province Auckland Rugby Club First Made All Blacks From Auckland Marist. AB# 176 Position Loose Forward & Lock All Black Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 27 International Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 27 Last Test 15 August 1914 v Australia at Sydney aged 28

Rank Sergeant, Wellington Battalion Serial Number 10/2119 Died Sunday, 8 August 1915, Gallipoli Age 29 Grave Not Known. New Zealand National Memorial, Chunuk Bair, Ref: 17

DAVID GALLAHER

Born 30 October 1873, Ramelton. County Donegal, Ireland.
Parents James Henry Gallagher and Maria Hardy McCloskie.
Education Katikati School, Bay of Plenty.
Physical 1.83m, 84kg

Province Auckland Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Ponsonby. AB# 97 Position Hooker and Wing Forward All Black Debut 11 July 1903 v Wellington, Wellington, aged 29 International Debut 15 August 1903 v Australia, Sydney, aged 29. Last Test 1 January 1906 v France, Paris, aged 32

Rank Sergeant, 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment.Serial Number 32513 Died Thursday, 4 October 1917, Poperinghe, Belgium. Age 43 Grave Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium Ref: III.D.8

ERIC TRISTRAM HARPER

Born 1 Dec 1877, Christchurch
Parents George & Agnes Harper, 11 Cashel St, Christchurch
Education St Patricks College, Wellington 1889 - 1892. Christchurch Boy's High
Physical 1.80m, 80kg

Province Canterbury Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Christchurch, 1904 AB# 112 Position Three-quarter All Black Debut 13 August 1904 v British & Irish Lions, Wellington aged 26 International Debut 13 August 1904 v British & Irish Lions at Wellington aged 26 Last Test 1 January 1906 v France at Paris aged 28

Rank Trooper, Canterbury Mounted Rifles Serial Number 35694 Died Tuesday, 30 April 1918, Palestine Age 40 Grave Listed on Jerusalem Memorial Ref Panel 1, but burried at Nimrin, 10 miles N.E of Jerico - grave possibly unmarked?

JAMES McNEECE

Born 24 December 1885, Invercargill
Parents James McNeece (father), Collingwood, Invercargill.
Education Middle School.
Physical 1.88m 92kg

Province Southland Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Waikiwi. AB# 199 Position Loose Forward All Black Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 27 International Debut 13 September 1913 v Australia, Dunedin aged 27 Last Test 15 August 1914 v Australia at Sydney aged 28

Rank Private, 2nd Battalion, Otago Regiment Serial Number 27561 Died Thursday, 21 June 1917, Messines, Belgium Age 31 Grave St Sever cemetery, Rouen, France, Ref: P.2.G.3B

ALEXANDER JAMES RIDLAND

Born 3 March 1883, Invercargill
Parents W. Ridland (father), 13 Dublin St, North Invercargill.
Education Unknown.
Physical Unknown

Province Southland Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Invercargill Star. AB# 164 Position Hooker All Black Debut 3 June 1910 v Wellington aged 28 International Debut 25 June 1910 v Australia, Sydney, aged 28 Last Test 2 July 1910 v Australia at Sydney aged 28

Rank Rifleman, 1st Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade Serial Number 72271 Died Tuesday, 5 November 1918, Cambrai, France Age 36 Grave Caudry British Cemetery, France, Ref: BC IV.F.31.

GEORGE MAURICE VICTOR SELLARS

Born 16 April 1886, Auckland
Parents Edward and Henrietta (Maud) Sellars, 12 Tole St, Ponsonby, Auckland.
Education Napier St School, Auckland.
Physical 1.75m, 76kg

Province Auckland Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Ponsonby. AB# 182 Position Hooker All Black Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 27 International Debut 6 September 1913 v Australia, Wellington aged 27 Last Test 15 November 1913 v USA at Berkeley, aged 27

Rank Private, 1st Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment Serial Number 26923 Died Thursday, 7 June 1917, Messines, Belgium Age 31 Grave (no known grave) Messines Ridge Memorial to the Missing, Belgium.

REGINALD TAYLOR

Born 23 March 1889 in Hillsborough, Taranaki.
Parents Thomas Taylor (father), Awatuna, Taranaki. Education Inglewood School.
Physical Unknown
Province Taranaki

Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Clifton, Waitara. AB# 202 Position Wing Forward All Black Debut 13 September 1913 v Australia, Dunedin aged 24 International Debut 13 September 1913 v Australia, Dunedin aged 24. Last Test 20 September 1913 v Australia at Christchurch, aged 24

Rank Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment Serial Number 8/2738 Died Wednesday, 20 June 1917, Messines, Belgium Age 28 Grave Underhill Farm Cemetery, Ploegsteert, Belgium. Ref: B6

HUBERT 'JUM' TURTILL

Born 1 February 1880 in Mile End, London.
Parents Unknown.
Education Unknown.
Physical Unknown

Province Canterbury Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Christchurch. AB# 139 Position Fullback All Black Debut 2 September 1905 v Australia, Dunedin aged 25 International Debut 2 September 1905 v Australia, Dunedin aged 25. Last Test 2 September 1905 v Australia, Dunedin aged 25

Rank Sergeant 422 Field Company, Royal Engineers, 55th - 57th West Lancashire Div, British Forces Serial Number T6959 & 426516 Died Tuesday, 9 April 1918, Bethune, France. Age 38 Grave Brown's Road Cemetery, Festubert, Pas de Calais, France. REF: V. D. 6.

FRANK REGINALD WILSON

Born 28 May 1885, Auckland.
Parents John and Elizabeth Wilson, 12 Pompallier Tce, Ponsonby, Auckland.
Education Auckland Grammar.
Physical Unknown

Province Auckland Rugby Club First made All Blacks from Auckland University. AB# 166 Position Wing three-quarter All Black Debut 3 June 1910 v Wellington, Wellington, aged 25 International Debut June 1910 v NSW, Australia, aged 25. Last Test None Played

Rank Second Lieutenant, 1st Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment. Serial Number 12/2616 Died Tuesday, 19 September 1916, Albert, France. Age 31 Grave Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension near Albert Ref: II.B.28.

With very special thanks to Nixon Pictures for bios on the above All Blacks, who are in the process of making a unique documentary called ‘All Blacks at War: The First XIII’