BARROWCLOUGH Harold Eric
24/16, Captain (temp Major), 1st New Zealand Rifle Brigade, WW1
31490, Brigadier, 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade, WW2
Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) New Years Honours 1 January 1954 Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) In recognition of his valuable services in the Pacific, 1945 Distinguished Service Order Gazetted 1 February 1919, p1616 For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership near Havrincourt Wood from 8th to 13 September 1918. He was in command of a battalion up against a strong position defended by the enemy. He gained good information from personal reconnaissance’s during one of which the enemy counter attacked. He rallied his men and leading them forward drove back the enemy with bomb and bayonet
Bar to the Distinguished Service Order
Gazetted 24 February 1942, issue 35465, p893
For most conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership as a brigade commander during the advance of the New Zealand Division which led up to the capture of Sidi Rezegh on 27 November 1941. This officer led and inspired his men during which must have been one of the most difficult battles in the campaign. Wherever the fighting was the heaviest he was to be found leading and inspiring the troops
Gazetted 4 June 1917, issue 30111, p5486
For conspicuous gallantry and bravery during the attack by his Company on 30 September 1916, when by his coolness and vigour he inspired his men and bombed and bayoneted down 250 yards of Flers Support Trench towards Eaucourt l’Abbaye and having cleared this portion of trench consolidated and held what he had gained. Since being appointed Company Commander on 16th September 1916 this officer has displayed skill and ability in the tactical handling of his Company, and has always set a high example of his men.
Mention in Despatches
Gazetted 11 July 1919, p8837
For distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty during the period 16th September 1918 to 15th March 1918. Barrowclough’s battalion used scaling ladders in a daring operation to seize the walled town of Le Quesnoy
Mention in Despatches
For creditable performance in Greece, 1941.
Croix de Guerre, France
Gazetted 14 July 1917, issue 30184, p7095
Gallantry and devotion to duty. On 30th September 1916 in Flers Support Trench during heavy shell and machine gun fire Captain BARROWCLOUGH led his Company in capturing about 400 yards of the trench. At one time the bombers came under British Stokes Gun Fire and had to retire. Captain BARROWCLOUGH went forward and by personal example inspired the bombers to continue. The operation was particularly difficult as a Company of a British Regiment had failed in the task the previous day. His coolmess inspired his men to further efforts. By his success he materially aassisted the Brigade on the left to capture and hold the position in front of Eascourt L'Assaye.
Military Cross, Greece
Gazetted 10 April 1942, issue 35519, p1595
For creditable performance in Greece, 1941.
Legion of Merit, USA
In recognition of his valuable services in the Pacific, 1945.
Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG)
Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB)
Distinguished Service Order and bar
British War Medal
Mention in Despatches
War Medal 1939-45
Mention in Despatches
New Zealand War Service Medal
Coronation Medal 1953
New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal
New Zealand Territorial Service Medal
Croix de Guerre (France)
Military Cross (Greece)
Legion of Merit (USA)
Born 23 June 1894 Masterton, New Zealand
Died 4 Mar 1972 Auckland, New Zealand
Appointed Chief Justice of New Zealand in 1953
Privy Councillor in 1954
Harold Eric Barrowclough was born in Masterton on 23 June 1894, the son of Hannah Sibthorpe Gault and her husband, Alfred Ernest Barrowclough, a civil engineer who later worked as a schoolteacher. Between 1907 and 1912 Harold attended Palmerston North Boys’ High School, where he was a successful debater, a member of the rugby First XV and a prefect. He also excelled academically, gaining a university Junior Scholarship in his final year. In 1913 he began studying law, among other subjects, at the University of Otago. While in Dunedin he lived at Knox College and served in the ranks of the Territorial Force.
In January 1915 Barrowclough enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and in May was commissioned a second lieutenant in the unit that became the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. Five months later he was promoted to lieutenant and embarked for service overseas. Barrowclough quickly emerged as an outstanding officer. In March 1916 he was promoted to captain and in July he was given command of a company. For coolness and bravery in vicious trench fighting near Flers on 30 September, he was awarded the Military Cross and the French Croix de guerre. In June 1917 Barrowclough was wounded. After recovering he was made a temporary major and appointed second in command of the Rifle Brigade’s reserve battalion. He was made a temporary lieutenant colonel in August 1918 and took command of the 4th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. For actions the following month in which he showed ‘conspicuous gallantry and able leadership’ he was made a DSO. He was also mentioned in dispatches for his actions late in 1918: on 4 November Barrowclough’s battalion used scaling ladders in a daring operation to seize the walled town of Le Quesnoy. After the end of hostilities Barrowclough ran the NZEF’s education programme in France and Germany before returning to New Zealand. He was discharged on 29 July 1919. Under special arrangements for returned servicemen Barrowclough was able to rapidly complete his legal studies at the University of Otago, graduating LLB in 1921. On 6 January that year, in Kaikorai, Dunedin, he married Mary Ogilvy Duthie. Barrowclough soon established a successful legal career in Dunedin, and lectured part time in law at Otago University. After completing his studies Barrowclough again became active in the Territorial Force, commanding the 1st Battalion of the Otago Infantry Regiment between July 1924 and June 1929. On being promoted to colonel in August 1930 he was placed in command of the 3rd New Zealand Infantry Brigade. In mid 1931 he agreed to become a partner in the Auckland law firm Russell, McVeagh, Bagnall and Macky, which necessitated resigning from military duties. Barrowclough soon became prominent in the Auckland legal fraternity. In 1936 he was one of the main figures behind the re-establishment of the National Defence League of New Zealand, which campaigned for greater defence preparedness. He was also, it appears, very involved in the ‘four colonels incident’ in 1938, in which the government’s defence policy was controversially criticised by four senior Territorial Force officers. In February 1940 Barrowclough was appointed commander of the 6th New Zealand Infantry Brigade, 2NZEF. Sailing from New Zealand on 1 May 1940 he was promoted to brigadier. After briefly commanding an improvised brigade in England, he joined his brigade in Egypt in October. Barrowclough had high standards and imposed them to good effect on his men. During the ill-fated Greek campaign of 1941 he performed creditably and was awarded the Greek Military Cross (first class) and was mentioned in dispatches. At the end of 1941 he displayed his usual determination, bravery and good tactical sense in the savage fighting around Sidi Rezegh during the second Libyan campaign. For his ‘conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership’ in the campaign he was awarded a bar to the DSO. Early in 1942 the New Zealand government asked General Bernard Freyberg to nominate an experienced officer to command the Pacific Section 2NZEF, which was garrisoning Fiji. Freyberg nominated Barrowclough, saying that he had ‘great powers of leadership, courage and knowledge of modern methods of war’. In March 1942 the commander of the New Zealand forces in Fiji was invalided home and because of the serious situation was immediately replaced. When Barrowclough returned to New Zealand the following month he was annoyed to discover that instead of being posted to Fiji he was to command the Northern Division, the home defence division responsible for the upper half of the North Island. However, early in August 1942, after its commander was accidentally killed, Barrowclough took command of the Pacific Section 2NZEF, which was generally known as 3rd New Zealand Division. He culled the division of officers he thought were not up to standard and embarked on a rigorous training programme to improve its effectiveness. Before his division took up garrison duties in New Caledonia at the end of 1942 he obtained from the government a charter setting out his powers as a national commander. Barrowclough’s division was never brought up to full strength, and throughout his period of command he had to deal with much uncertainty about its role and future. Barrowclough was a forceful advocate of a significant New Zealand role in the Pacific war and pressed effectively for his division to be committed to action. Between September 1943 and February 1944 the division took part in three successful actions: clearing the island of Vella Lavella of Japanese troops, seizing the Treasury Islands, and capturing the Green Islands. The Green Islands operation was the largest, with Barrowclough commanding nearly 16,500 troops, two-thirds of whom were American. During his service in the Pacific he developed good working relationships with senior United States officers and showed himself to be capable of commanding joint forces in complex amphibious operations. To conserve manpower, Barrowclough’s division was withdrawn from active operations and reduced in size early in 1944; in October 1944 it was disbanded. Various options for employing Barrowclough were considered by the New Zealand government, but these came to nothing. He was discharged and posted to the reserve of officers in November 1945. In recognition of his valuable services in the Pacific he was made a CB and a commander of the US Legion of Merit. Barrowclough returned to his law firm, which, like many others, had been badly affected by the absence of staff on military duties. He helped rebuild its fortunes, but although a highly respected member of the Auckland legal fraternity, he did not enjoy a particularly successful period in the courts. In 1953 he chaired a committee that examined the reform of New Zealand’s hospitals, and in November that year he was appointed chief justice of New Zealand. His appointment came as a surprise to many in the profession. During his term in Wellington as chief justice Barrowclough’s most important achievement was the establishment, after lengthy negotiations, of a permanent Court of Appeal of New Zealand in 1957. He was made a KCMG and a privy counsellor in 1954 and he also received an honorary LLD from the University of Otago. His later years were somewhat blighted by the death of his wife, Mary, in March 1964. Barrowclough retired as chief justice in January 1966 and returned to Auckland, where he died on 4 March 1972. He was survived by two sons and a daughter. Sir Harold Barrowclough rose to prominent positions in two unrelated fields. He had a reserved and sometimes rather stern manner, but was a modest and kindly man of the utmost integrity. He was one of New Zealand’s greatest citizen soldiers and believed that ‘bearing arms in defence of the State’ was a duty and a privilege. A determined man, he did not suffer fools and was prepared to advance his point of view forcefully. These traits led to some senior military officers regarding him as a talented but difficult individual. Barrowclough was generally considered a better soldier than he was a lawyer, but in both peace and war he inspired great loyalty and respect from those around him.