04 October 2017

Casualties of Passchendaele: Serjeant David Gallaher

Wednesday 4 October marks 100 years since David Gallaher was killed during the Third Battle of Ypres. Here is more about the former captain of the All Blacks.

 

Serjeant David Gallaher

2nd Bn., Auckland Regiment, N.Z.E.F

Died: 4 October 1917

Aged: 41

David "Dave" Gallaher was a New Zealand rugby union footballer, best known as the captain of "The Originals" - the first New Zealand national rugby union team to be known as the All Blacks.

Born in Ramelton, Ireland, his family emigrated to New Zealand in 1878. Originally settling in Katikati in the Bay of Plenty, they moved to Auckland in the 1890s and it was there he played his provincial rugby.

Gallaher played 26 representative matches for Auckland, including the first ever Ranfurly Shield match, and 36 for the All Blacks, including six tests. His All Black career spanned from 1903 to 1906, the highlight being the captaincy of the "Originals".

Gallaher fought in the Boer War serving as a corporal in the 6th and 10th New Zealand Contingents of Mounted Rifles. When the First World War started, David was working as a storeman at the Auckland Farmers Freezing Company. He still played club rugby but he was in his 40s and his adventurous days were over. Although he had no need to volunteer, his younger brother had been killed in France and so he lied about his age and enlisted in July 1916. He saw action at Ypres, and was killed during the Passchendaele offensive on 4 October 1917.

He is buried at CWGC Nine Elms Cemetery, Belgium, where his gravestone bears the silver fern.

His grave is still a place of pilgrimage for many, while the trophy which France and New Zealand play for is named after him.