Arthur Cecil Dalley

From auditor to soldier.

Arthur Cecil Dalley was from Canterbury. He went to Rangiora High and was a prize winner at the school in 1914. Arthur joined the Audit Department in February 1918 as a Cadet. He joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in May 1918, aged 20.

Arthur was sent to the United Kingdom in October 1918. He arrived after the war had ended and worked for some months at the New Zealand Expeditionary Force base at Codford in the United Kingdom.

He returned to New Zealand and was discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in June 1919. He was awarded the British War Medal. He did not rejoin the Audit Department.

Life did not go well for Arthur. In 1927, he appeared in court charged with obtaining goods and services by false pretences. He was sentenced to a period of reformative detention of 12 months. A press report of 11 June 1928 describes what happened next:

Having received disturbing news from his home, Arthur Cecil Dalley, an accountant, serving a sentence of 12 months reformative detention, escaped from a prison camp near Trentham yesterday afternoon leaving a note to the effect that he would report back in the morning. Dalley was captured in the evening, on arriving at his house where a watch had been set up and will now have to serve another month.

In 1931, he was in trouble again for passing valueless cheques and was sentenced to three months in prison. The press report of the case said that:

The reason Dalley gave for the present offences were that he was out of work and was “hard up” and wanted the money to keep his wife and child.

Arthur was before the courts again in 1936. He was charged with forging cheques and was sentenced to 18 months in prison on 17 December 1936.

In passing sentence, the Judge referred to the fact that Arthur had been suffering from a period of acute mental depression (he had attempted suicide on two occasions) and said that:

A term of detention was necessary for the prisoner’s own protection, apart from the fact he must be punished. If it appears to the Prison Board that the prisoner’s mentality was such that it would be safe to release him, that could be done.

Arthur died suddenly on 31 January 1937. He was serving his sentence at a prison in the central North Island. Because of the risk of suicide, a close watch was kept on him. On 30 January, he had been with a work party on the prison farm. He became ill, and described his symptoms as a “pain behind his eyes” and was returned to his cell. His condition became worse and a doctor was called, who said Arthur had suffered a severe epileptic fit.

Medicine was prescribed for the prison staff to administer to him when he became conscious. He did not regain consciousness and died the next morning of heart failure.