Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Brigadier-General Harry Townsend Fulton, C.M.G., D.S.O. (d) [F]

Brigadier-General Harry Townsend Fulton, C.M.G., D.S.O. (d) [F].

General Fulton was the son of the late Lieut.-Gen. John Fulton, R.A. Born at Dalhousie, India, on August 15th, 1869, he came to New Zealand at an early age, and as a young man served for some time as Lieutenant in the Dunedin High School Cadets, and for four years with the same rank in the Dunedin City Guards Rifle Volunteers. Before reaching the age of 23 years he received a commission in the Imperial Army, being appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on April 9th, 1892. Towards the end of that year he transferred to the West Yorkshire Regiment. Two years later he joined the Indian Staff Corps, and was attached, first to the 26th Madras Infantry, and then to the 39th Bengal Infantry (Gharwal Rifles). In December, 1897, he was appointed to the 2nd Battalion of the Prince of Wales's (now King Edward's) Own Gurkha Rifles, in which unit he served for a year as a company officer, and two and a half years as Quartermaster. In May, 1901, he was appointed Adjutant of his battalion, was promoted Captain two months later, Major in April, 1910, Second-in-Command in January, 1917, and received brevet-rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the following June.

With the Gurkhas the late General (then Lieutenant) Fulton fought in the Indian frontier war of 1897/98, serving with the Malakand and Mohmand Frontier Forces (medal with clasp), and participated also in the Tirah Campaign of the same period (clasp). At the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899 he was in New Zealand on sick-leave from the Indian Army, and in accordance with the usual custom volunteered for service with the New Zealand forces. He was appointed Captain of No. 9 Company (afterwards "A" Squadron) of the 4th Contingent, and served with it in Carrington's Rhodesian Field Force in the operations about Ottoshoop and Malmani. At the latter place he received a severe wound, from the effects of which he was never afterwards entirely free. His service in the South African War carried with it the award of the Queen's Medal with three clasps, and was marked by the honour of Mention in Despatches and the decoration of the Distinguished Service Order.

page 491

General (then Major) Fulton was on furlough in New Zealand when the Great War broke out, and again, on 5th August, 1914, offered his services to the New Zealand Government. Six days later he joined the Samoan Expeditionary Force, and on his 45th birthday sailed with that body in command of a composite battalion, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In March of the following year he returned with the relieved troops to New Zealand, and was given command of the 4th Reinforcements due to sail for Egypt in three weeks' time. With these troops he embarked on April 16th, but was next day withdrawn to take command of the new regiment, the formation of which had just been decided upon. The training and the general management of the first two units of this regiment, soon to be known as the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, were placed entirely in his hands, and with them he sailed on active service in October. On the formation of the New Zealand Division in March, 1916, and the arrival in Egypt of the remaining two battalions, he was given command of the Brigade and promoted from the New Zealand rank of Lieutenant-Colonel to that of Brigadier-General.

In connection with the fighting in France, General Fulton was twice mentioned in Despatches, was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George on 1st January, 1917, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre in December of the same year.

General Fulton was mortally wounded on March 28th, 1918, at Colincamps on the Somme, and was buried at the Doullens Military Cemetery.

At the close of the war the balance of the officers' mess funds, including that of the mess at Brocton, was voted to the Governors of the Otago Boys' High School, where the late General Fulton had received his early education, for the purpose of founding a scholarship in his memory, to be known as "The General Harry Fulton Bursary," and of placing in the hall of the school a tablet drawing attention to the career of one of its former scholars.

On the occasion of the unveiling of the memorial erected in St. Matthew's Church, Dunedin, by the late General's widow, Sister A. H. Fulton, R.R.C., the following lament, composed by a former schoolmate and close personal friend, was recited. It fittingly expresses the sentiments of his other friends, the men of the New Zealand Ritle Brigade.

Chant Funèbre. In Memoriam. Brigadier-General Harry Townsend Fulton, C.M.G.. D.S.O.

Obiit 29th March, 1918.
Peal, organ; make great music; lo, a bier
We bear in spirit to the resting-place
Of that which royally served a shining Soul.
In France that marred form lieth. France is here!
Love, loyalty the envious leagues efface,
And scorn the watery wastes between that roll.

Love, loyalty we bear him; he is ours;
We shared his boyhood bright, his laughing youth,
Bade him God-speed when, following his Star,
As true men must, with swift-unfolding powers
He gave himself, whole, one, in simple truth,
To soldier service in a field afar.

page 492

Wide, wide is England; they who love her ask
But that they serve her; very careless where;
Yet Destiny, His Will Who rules supreme
Over His subject Worlds, decrees the task,
Pushes her ignorant pieces here and there,
Making man's dream a fact, man's fact a dream.

So, though he left us, though he passed from view
Of outer eyes, though scarce we hoped to see
Him ever again on his adopted shore,
Fate brought him hither when the trumpets blew,
Forth-calling all our Island chivalry
To help in England's warring—ours once more.

Ours, with the wisdom of the years apart
To make his joyous giving rich and warm—
Ask veldt and kopje; ask the men that learned
In war's remorseless testings what great heart
Beat 'neath the cool, collected, expert form;
What flame of brotherly love within it burned;

Love never hardship, love not wounds, nor yet
The dread of living death could quench or dim;
Softness and strength his secret; depth and height
In exquisite union none will soon forget.
Long shall we thrill at sudden thought of him,
Our Age's "very perfect, gentle knight."

War's flare died down; peace came again; and he
We loved again bade us a gay adieu,
Passed from our loving vision to his place
On the great Frontier, bending faithfully
To the day's burden midst his Hillmen true,
His by a deeper bond than Faith or Race.

Years lapsed, when lo, the mutterings, the peal,
The loosened levin—all the World in arms!
Not England's fight but Freedom's; and again
By subtle unseen turn of Fortune's wheel
Our hero, resting with us, at the alarms
Sprang to his post, strong leader of strong men.

Samoa saw him; and the Training Ground,
Whence many a levy, moulded by his hand,
Went forth to battle by his spirit fired;
Then the bars fell; an open path he found,
And forth himself at last, in high command,
Fared, as the lion heart of him desired.

Triumph on triumph followed, bay to bay
He added, as his Rifles played their role
On that blood-boltered stage; and did and dared,
And did and dared, from day to glorious day—
Graved deep on Fame's imperishable scroll,
Deep, deep their names, and ours their life that shared.

page 493

Loved, trusted, ever staunchly following
Even as followed; neither with success
Made arrogant, nor by reverse downcast;
Thankt of his People, honoured by his King—
What could the starry Soldier further bless
Save that God take him to Himself at last!

We weep not, for we know he riseth still
From height to height; all of him that hath died
We reverently leave beneath the sod.
Heaven needed him some onerous post to fill;
He lives! our hearts supremely satisfied,
Trust the superb economies of God.

Peal, organ; make great music; fill the Fane
With phrases magical, on which our praise
And prayer soft to the throne of God may rise—
Prayer that Earth's sacrifice be not in vain,
That God from the wreckt World a nobler raise;
Praise that beyond Earth's best His Wonder lies!