We Shall Remember Them


Sport can bring out both the best and the worst in people. We can learn about ourselves on the pitch, we can build character, and we can become heroes, even if it is just for 80 minutes.

However for many players their ultimate act of heroism came off the pitch with their service in the New Zealand armed forces during conflicts around the world..

More than 18,000 New Zealanders made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I, and considering the population of New Zealand in 1918 was just 1.15 million, it’s impact was significant to the whole country.

Of those 18,000 who died, 13 were All Blacks, including the 1905-06 Originals captain Dave Gallaher.

Born in Ireland, Gallaher is well known to New Zealanders, especially rugby fans, due to his role with the team after whom the All Blacks were named, and his name is given to the trophy contested between the All Blacks and France.

He died in Passchendaele in Belgium in 1917 aged 43. Gallaher wasn't conscripted due to his age but volunteered after losing two brothers in the war. It is little wonder that his final resting place if often visited by All Blacks teams when they are on tour in Europe.

However Gallaher wasn’t the only All Black to give his life in service during World War I.

Ten All Blacks dies on the Western Front - Gallaher, Frank Wilson, Robert Black, George Sellars, James Baird, Reginald Taylor, James McNeece, 'Jum' Turtill, Ernest Dodd and Jimmy Ridland. Albert Downing and Henry Dewar died in Gallipoli, and Eric Harper died in Palestine.

All Blacks killed during World War I

James Baird, died June 7, 1917, France, 23

Robert Black, died September 21, 1916, Somme, 23

Henry Dewar, died August 19, 1915, Gallipoli, 31

Ernest Dodd, died September 11, 1918, Havrincourt, France, 38

Albert Downing, died August 8, 1915, Gallipoli, aged 29

Dave Gallaher, died October 4, 1917, Passchendaele, 43

Eric Harper, died April 30, 1918, Palestine, 40

James McNeece, died June 21, 1917, Messines, 31

Jimmy Ridland, died November 5, 1918, France, 36

George Sellars, died June 7, 1917, Messines, 31

Reginald Taylor, died June 20, 1917, Messines, 28

'Jum' Turtill, died April 9, 1918, France, 38

Frank Wilson, died September 19. 1916, Somme, 31