Alexander McColl was born in Wellington in 1892 and attended Wellington College, where he played First XV rugby and was a champion rower.
McColl was working as surveyor in Taumarunui when war broke out in August 1914. He quickly enlisted, and obtained a commission as a lieutenant, due to his previous service in the Territorials.
In October that year, he sailed for Egypt with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and later saw action at Gallipoli as part of the Wellington Battalion, where he was wounded in the shoulder.
By mid-1916, McColl was in France with the First Battalion the Wellington Regiment.
On the first of July that year, he wrote to his mother, excited at the prospect of leading a raid on the German line at Armentières:
Today is a red letter day in my history as I am taking out a raiding party against the huns.
I have been down here with my party for a few days and everything is working beautifully. If we don’t give the Boche the biggest hiding he has ever received it will not be our fault.
As we are awfully short of officers at present there was no one left with the necessary experience and stamina to take the party.
I know that the Colonel did not like me going but his hands are tied and personally I consider myself the luckiest of men to have the opportunity of leading such a splendid body of men that I have under me.
They are all trained like fighting cocks. I have been at football etc for the last few weeks. I have most of the old football team here including some very well known reps, just the boys for this game.
Am feeling absolutely confident, so please, dear mother, do not worry about me. I am quite sure you would not have me do otherwise, especially if you saw how pleased the men were when they found I was coming down.
Alexander McColl was killed in this raid. A popular and well-respected officer, his death was a big blow to the 1st Wellington Battalion.
McColl’s commanding officer, Herbert Hart, was especially upset at the loss of his good friend.
…Captain McColl the leader of the party who is my Adjutant, came back unscathed, but went out again immediately to help in one of the stretcher bearing parties and was hit in the stomach by a machine gun, which caused his death before he reached the dressing station.
A heavy blow to me, which grieved me sorely.
He has been my bosom friend and right hand man through many months of hard fighting and campaigning. We have lived at various times in the same dugout, and sat at the same table, worked together and played together and now he is no more.
Alexander McColl was one of the 222 Wellington College old boys to die during the First World War.