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The spirit of Eureka at Gallipoli

  • 22 April 2015

It was still the morning on 25 April 1915 – the first day of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. The Australian 12th Battalion was gallantly attempting to fight its way up the steep slopes of Baby 700 from the beach below.

Reaching the top of the cliff the Australians discovered that their commanding officer, Colonel L.F. Clark had been killed and a major from Western Australia was badly wounded. Captain Joseph Peter Lalor then took command of the 12th Battalion, G Company.

However by noon that day another commanding officer – the grandson of Peter Lalor of Eureka Stockade fame was also dead. Joseph Lalor was only 31.

The Lalor clan from County Laois in Ireland has an extensive bloodline of fierce warriors many of whom fought Queen Elizabeth’s and Cromwell’s forces defending the mighty fortress of Dunamaise close by the Lalor homelands of Dysart and Enos.

Along with the celebrated Joseph O’Lawlor (Captain Joseph’s cousin), a general in the Spanish Army who fought alongside the Duke of Wellington against Napoleon, there is probably none more remarkable military member of the Lalor clan than Captain Joseph Peter Lalor, known to his comrades as ‘Little Jimmy’.

An obituary to Joseph stated; 'Wherever trouble and fighting were in evidence, Captain Lalor was to be found.'

Grandson of the Eureka leader and the eldest son of Dr Joseph and Agnes Lalor of Richmond, Joe was educated at Xavier College, Kew, choosing disciplined adventure rather than following his father into medicine. He joined the British Navy, but found it not to his liking (maybe the spirit of his forebears might have had something to do with it).

Instead of retracing his steps home, he found his way to South America and joined a rebel force engaged in battle against a military backed dictatorship in Argentina. A people’s army fighting a repressive regime was better suited to his Lalor heritage.

For three months according a newspaper report his life was 'fighting, starving and excitement.' However the rebels were crushed and when it came time for revenge executions, Lalor made a daring escape from Argentina without his promised pay packet.

He hitched a ride on a British merchant ship headed for Britain but somehow landed in France. His thirst for adventure had not been quenched in Argentina so Lalor enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and was quickly dispatched to Algiers with the 2nd Foreign Regiment.

During his three years in the legion, he undertook study