Gerald Gallagher

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  • Born circa 1912; died on 27 September 1941 at age 29.

Gerald Bernard Gallagher was a British colonial officer of Irish extraction who was assigned to the Crown Colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, arriving in 1937. He subsequently became Administrator of the Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme, and was responsible (with Magistrate Koata and other colonists) for the 1940 discovery of human bones on Nikumaroro that may have been Earhart's. See "Gallagher of Nikumaroro: The Last Expansion of the British Empire" by TIGHAR's lead archeologist, Tom King.

"Gerald B. Gallagher is the twenty-nine year old Colonial Service cadet who has recently been made Officer-In-Charge of the new Phoenix Island Settlement Scheme. Known to his fellow officers as Irish and to the Gilbertese islanders as Karaka, Gallagher is a remarkable character. He is well over six feet tall, a Roman Catholic (unusual in the Colonial Service), and utterly dedicated to the impoverished islanders who are trying to carve out a life on the previously uninhabited islands of Sydney, Hull and Gardner in the Phoenix Group. Colonial officer Eric R. Bevington describes Gallagher as 'the most Christ-like man I’ve ever known.' Gallagher and Bevington had come out from England as Cadet Officers together in the spring of 1937."[1]



N.B. In the following notes, the relationships are those of the persons Gerald B. Gallagher--grandfather, father, first cousin twice-removed, etc.

Gallagher family

  • Grandparents: John Gallagher b. 22 April 1847 and Elizabeth Mary ???, born c. 1852 at Sindh, India (later Pakistan).
  • Father: Gerald Hugh Gallagher (~1882-1968). Born in India. By 1906 he was practicing medicine in Dublin. Six years later (1912) the medical register shows him in the West African Medical service.
  • First cousin twice-removed: Gerard (Gerry) Gallagher.
  • Clan genealogist: Adrian Gallagher.[1] Relationship to Gerald B. Gallagher as yet uncertain.

Clancy family

  • Grandparents: Cornelius Bernard Clancy and his wife, Louisa Riding. After 1895 Cornelius was Lieutenant Quartermaster in the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.
  • Mother: né Edith Annie Clancy was born in India on 28 June 1886.
  • Aunts and uncle:
    • Julie Marie Clancy b. 26 November 1888 at Bombay, India, d. 14 July 1971 at Leatherhead, Surrey, England. She is the "Miss Clancy" of Malvern who was to take receipt of Gallagher's trunks.
    • Bernard John Clancy b. 8 July 1890 at Bombay, India, d. 12 October 1918 at Eastbourne, Sussex, England.
    • Louisa Patricia Clancy born 31 May 1894 at Bombay, India, last heard from in the 1901 Census in England (research continues).

Nuclear family

  • Gerald Hugh Gallagher and Edith Annie Clancy were married on the 8th of August 1911, in Chelsea.
  • Gerald Bernard, born 6 July 1912
  • Terrance Hugh, was born during the winter of 1917 at Romford, Havering, Greater London. "Pembroke Military Cemetery, Malta. Gallagher, Lance Corporal, Terence <sic> Hugh, 6207239, 2nd Bn., Royal Irish Fusiliers. 21 March 1942. Age 25. Son of Gerald Hugh and Edith Annie Gallagher, of Kensington, London. Grave Ref. Coll. grave 5. 3. 4."[2]

Derry memorial to Earhart

On her solo transatlantic flight, 20-21 May 1932, Earhart landed in a field owned by a member of the Gallagher clan. The Amelia Earhart Centre in Derry was built to commemorate her landing there but seems to have been closed in 2009 due to lack of funds.[3]

Gallagher's Burial Service (1941)

"The coffin was draped with a new Union Jack and was carried on the shoulders of representative numbers of Europeans, Fijians, Ellice Islanders and Gilbertese.

"At the graveside Lieut-Commander Mullins read the burial service of the Roman Catholic Church and the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee” was sung by the Europeans present. Lieut-Commander Mullins spoke a few simple and appropriate words (a copy of which have already been given to His Excellency). The Protestant natives sang a hymn in Ellice, and subsequently Maheo, an Ellice Islander, and one of the native wireless operators, paid a simple, eloquent and most touching tribute (in English) to Mr. Gallagher’s memory. After the grave had been filled in, the native women on the station placed garlands of bush flowers around it."[2]

At his mother's request, Gallagher's body was exhumed when Niku was abandoned in 1963 and buried on Tarawa in a Catholic cemetery.

From Bones II research

  • Gallagher had a pet gannet, "a bird of character called Honk" (Maude, 116).
  • Gallagher's whaler was called the Fiafia, a word that signifies "a dance, a party, a jollification, making whoopee and any other form of social gaiety within that order of ideas" (Maude, 130).
  • Neither Mrs. Brown nor Stan remember Gallagher having a fiance, but it wouldn't surprise her if he did. "Many of those young men came out in the service, went home on leave and returned with a bride. The wives usually disliked the area."
  • Rumor--Gallager was engaged to the secretary of Jack Charles Barley, resident commissioner, GEIC. b. 1887. BA (Oxon.). We weren't able to make any progress with this rumor. We never found out the name of the alleged fiance.
  • Where is Gallagher's diary from Niku? Where are his photographs?
  • Where is the correspondence about moving his body from Niku to Tarawa? The letter was not in his WPHC file. Did they open a new file on him in Tarawa?

Missing trunks

27 September 1941 Gallagher dies
Within a few days: Gallagher's personal effects are inventoried and boxed in Niku and placed aboard the Viti for shipment to Suva (by the way, one of the items was a suitcase monogrammed E.A.G., which we now know stands for his mother, Edith Annie Gallagher).
20 December 1941
Edith's letter to Sir Harry of December 20, 1941
In these difficult days I know that it will be difficult to send home his effects - but I know they will be in safe keeping with you, so please keep them and send them when you think best. The address will be to:-
Graham Road
My sister's home. This address is only for Gerald's effects. I should be grateful my Bank address can be used for all letters please.
10 July 1943 Dr. Duncan "Jock" Macpherson dies.
4 October 1943 A silver pocket watch, a silver wrist watch, and a gold signet ring found among Macpherson's belongings sent to the WPHC.
1945 Letter of inquiry from a family member about Gallagher's effects?
7 August 1945 The Western Pacific High Commission sent a letter to W. R. Carpenter Co. discussing the "four tin trunks" of personal effects of Gerald Gallagher. They were to be delivered to Mrs. E. Gallagher, c/o Miss Clancy, "Clanmere", Graham Road, Malvern, Worcs. England.
Gerald's mother asked that his personal effects be returned to a Miss. Clancy [Julie Marie Clancy] who was her sister and lived at Clanmere, Graham Road, Malvern, Worcester, England. Edith Gallagher had been engaged in war work in London and apparently considered the Malvern address to be more permanent than her own. [4]

There are several interesting things about this:

1. The shipping/consignment requests for Gallagher's personal effects to be shipped to England to Gallagher's aunt occurred in 1941.
2. Someone may have initiated an inquiry before 7 August 1945. Potential "someones" are
a. his mother Edith Annie (Clancy) Gallagher (who, by the way, lived until 1981).
Discussion: Although Germany had surrendered, the war in the Pacific was still raging with every expectation of an amphibious assaults on the Home Islands of Japan in November, 1945, and Spring, 1946. Strange time for this topic to come up except......We have information on Edith Annie Clancy that tells us that she was a person of some influence in England (she did, after all, have the clout to get Gallagher's remains moved to Tarawa in 1968 (or not), that she was cited in the London Gazette for her war contributions, and that she was on the list for the Coronation Medal for Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. Did she ask where the effects of her son were? Did that trigger the 7 August 1945 telegram to see where the effects are and/or what happened to them?
b. his father Gerald Hugh Gallagher (who died in 1968).
c. his aunt, Louisa Patricia Clancy.
Discussion: she was supposed to have received the effects in late 1941. In the general euphoria of the surrender of Germany, did she inquire when the effects would finally be delivered?
d. Someone on their own initiative in the WPHC
Discussion: Would someone in WPHC followup on an almost 4 year old "open action item", and, if so, what would they do? Possible avenues: a) find out if the owner, Edith Annie Gallagher, still wanted the effects shipped to Louis Patricia Clancy at the old address or shipped somewhere else; b) find out what ever happened?

TIGHAR has not been able to track where the trunks containing Gallagher's personal property were shipped. We know from WPHC records that shipment was delayed until late in the war. The WPHC wrote W. R. Carpenter Shipping on August 7, 1945, to ask them to pick up four trunks containing Gallagher’s belongings and ship them to his mother in England. The notes that follow were taken during an interview with Tofiga's daughter, who had a long and very successful career with W. R. Carpenter.

  • There was a fire six years ago that destroyed Carpenters' office building. But Carpenters is owned by an Australian company (Carpenters Holdings). Walter Carpenter, the old man, loved to keep records and he may have had them moved to an Australian university. His son, Randolph, is in Australia.
  • Tofiga's daughter worked at Carpenter's in 2003. She was sure that there would be no records available from the 1940s. It is just not the way a shipping company does business. If they have any archives, they're just boxes in some old garage. The company has been restructured several times since 1945, most notably through the acquisition of Morris Hedstrom Ltd. in the 1950s. Each one had its own shipping company, so many changes had to be made for the company to reach its present form.
  • The London office closed about 10 years ago.

Two watches and a signet ring missing

  • McGusty wrote Dr. Duncan "Jock" Macpherson's dad to say that his son had cirrhosis of the liver. Three days later, Jock died at age 42 on July 10, 1943. On 4 October 1943, a silver pocket watch, a silver wrist watch, and a gold signet ring were sent to the Secretary of the WPHC: "It was Dr. Macpherson's intent to take these items to Mr. Gallagher's parents when he next went to England on leave."
    • Were these items included in the trunk inventory? Shipped separately? Lost?
  • Terence Hugh Gallagher: sole executor of GBG's will.

Settlement of the Estate

1229259 F.49/26: Gallagher, G.B. (deceased): - claims against the estate of. 1942-1945.
1229259 WPHC 9/II F.49/26 Gallagher, G.B. (deceased): -
Claims against the estate of.

Last paper 3597/1936 (S. of S.). See also main files.

Last entry: 2nd October 1945, GS Barrack pays the Hercules Cotton Company in Sydney, Australia. It took him 5 years and many letters to collect his 29-2-10.

The estate got charged for Gallagher's mess bill from his last trip on the Viti in 1941--the voyage on which he died.

Harry Evans Maude was the administrator of the estate (30 May 1945) according to D.C. McKee.

24 September 1944 "Constable Esele makes a claim for the Gilbertese canoe on the grounds that five months before his death Mr. Gallagher said to him these words, "When I leave the Colony you shall have this canoe" of course this is no legal claim, but meanwhile the canoe referred to is in the boat shed on Gardner Island awaiting disposal. The Ellice type canoe was given to Aram in trust for his son BENATI who was a kind of God-son of the deceased."

Last minute: C.A.? ARPPKC. AS(G) 8.4.48

Two lines below, initials or abbreviation that have not yet been deciphered.

Plaque left on Niku by TIGHAR



  1. The Gallagher Clan.
  2. Gallagher Clan.
  3. "Earhart Musem to be Closed."
  4. Vern Klein, "Gallagher's Life" Forum.