13/528, Squadron Sergeant Major, Auckland Mounted Rifles
812054 2nd Lieutenant, WW2 in the Auckland Home Guard
25863 Lieutenant, Legion of Frontiersmen, New Zealand
Gazetted 4 June 1917, p5486. For distinguished Service in the field during the second attack on Gaza 4 April 1917 Gazetted 6 July 1917, p6774. For gallant and distinguished conduct in the field. General AJ Murray, 1 March 1917
British War Medal
Mention in Despatches
War Service Medal 1939-45
New Zealand War Medal
Frontiersmen Pioneer Axe [Awarded 1935]
Frontiersmen Long Service Medal [Awarded 1957]
Born 1 September 1889 Leicestershire, England
Died 17 June 1966 Waikato, New Zealand
Buried Waerenga Cemetery, Waikato, New Zealand
MYSTERY AT ORAKEI
Bullets from roadside
Problem for the Police
An attempt to shoot a cyclist in the back at Orakei late on Monday night is likely to become one of the most baffling mysteries in the experience of the Auckland Police. The cyclist was Mr William Palmer, aged 47, of 109 Orakei Road, Remuera, who is well known as the Commander of ‘A’ Squadron of the Legion of Frontiersmen.
The affair occurred in Ngapipi Road, Orakei, between 70 and 80 yards from the junction with the waterfront road. Mr Palmer had left his home shortly before 10 o’clock to cycle to the city along the waterfront road to his employment as a gatekeeper at Queen’s Wharf, a position he has occupied for some years. As he was passing a row of eight boatsheds on his left on Ngapipi Road there was a burst of shots from a thicket of scrub and small trees on the other side of the road. The shots were fired at a distance of no more than twenty yards, the assailant being under cover. How many shots were fired could not be estimated by Mr Palmer, who suffered no injury, but two bullets lodged in the door of the boatshed nearest the waterfront road, a structure owned by Mr J. Wilson of Remuera. One lodged in the timber at the bottom left-hand corner, about 9 inches from the ground, and the other struck at the right of the door about five feet from the ground.
Motorist gives aid
“Whoever tried to shoot me was a coward”, stated Mr Palmer, “If the shots had been fired from the front or even level, I would certainly seen flashes. The shots were fired from behind me and they whizzed behind me. It was uncanny, but even in the stress of the moment I recognised the sound as that of a pistol. There was no sense in dismounting with an assailant behind me, making myself an easy target, so I rode on to the waterfront road. The position would have been different had the assailant been in front.” Mr Palmer said that a singular circumstance was that there was surprisingly little traffic in the vicinity for that time of night. Usually there would have been a number of motor cars on the waterfront road, but as it was he had to wait for several minutes until a car approached from the city, he hailed the driver, a young man, whose name he did not know, informed him of his escape and asked the stranger to hasten to a Police station. There was a woman passenger who was apparently the driver’s mother, and for that reason it was not deemed wise to return to the place where the shooting occurred to make a search for the attacker. The car proceeded to the city, where the Queen’s wharf Police were advised of the affair, Mr Palmer following on his bicycle.
Two bullets Recovered
Detectives and uniformed police later reached Ngapipi Road but there was no sign of any assailant. Mr Palmer had noticed a car parked on Ngapipi Road, facing Remuera, as he passed the boatsheds, but this vehicle had disappeared when the search was made. All he could remember from his casual observation was that the car was a large, dark model. Mr Palmer remembered that the car was parked without lights just around the curve in the road, out of sight along the short, straight portion of the thoroughfare from the waterfront road.
The Police were able yesterday to recover two bullets from the door of the boatshed. These were considered to have been fired from an automatic pistol. These were considered to have been fired from an automatic pistol. There will have to be an expert examination of the bullets to determine the calibre of the weapon. An extensive search was made for cartridge cases expected to have been ejected from the pistol. Slashers were used to cut back the scrub along the road, and rakes were used in examining the rank grass. The Police said last night, however, that no cartridge had been found. A further search will be made. It is considered that Mr Palmer’s escape can be attributed largely to the comparative darkness of the roadway at the point of the incident. The circumstance would also suggest that an assailant, were he lying in wait for Mr Palmer, would be in grave doubt concerning his identity.
Mr Palmer commented that the murderous attempt was as inexplicable to him as to his family and friends, who were mystified by the affair. There is a belief that the offender was actuated by entirely reckless purposes. Mr Palmer has not been able to suggest anyone who could harbour a grudge or who could have known his movements on the particular night.
A native of Leicestershire, Mr Palmer was in the British Army before the Great War, during which he served with the Auckland Mounted Rifles. In the Legion of Frontiersmen he holds the high honour of the Pioneer’s decoration. As a young man he was a prominent boxer.
The seriousness with which the Police regard the attempt was shown last night when a constable remained with Mr Palmer at his employment. The Police have obviously been hampered in their enquiries from the outset by their failure to give publicity to the shooting immediately it occurred. Had details of the incident been communicated to the newspapers on Monday evening, ant persons with evidence bearing directly or indirectly upon the case would have been in a position to communicate it to the Police without delay.
[New Zealand Herald 10 July 1935]