Wallace, James Watson

BORN HULL 25/05/1893. SON OF JAMES WATSON WALLACE (1864-1944) AND ELIZABETH BARBARA BRYSON (1866-1933), OF 13 SACVILLE TERRACE, FERRIES STREET, HULL (1911 CENSUS) AND 40 NEW BRIDGE ROAD, HULL (ARMY ADDRESS). SON OF A HOUSE PAINTER. ONE OF NINE CHILDREN. EMPLOYED AS A SIGN WRITER. HE ALSO LIVED AT 66 SHERBURN STREET, HULL. HE MARRIED CATHERINE (KATE) BURDON, AT NEWCASTLE, IN 1915. THEY HAD ONE SON CALLED JAMES, BORN IN 1918.

HE ENLISTED IN THE HULL PALS, ON 02/01/1915, AGED 21 YEARS AND 240 DAYS. HIS ARMY MEDICAL RECORDS DESCRIBE HIM, AS 5 FOOT 11 INCHES TALL, 150 LBS WEIGHT, 37 INCH CHEST, AND ‘GOOD’ PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT. HE MARRIED CATHERINE (KATE) BURDON, AT NEWCASTLE, IN APRIL 1915. HE WAS POSTED TO EGYPT, WITH THE 12TH EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT, ON 15/12/1915. TRANSFERRED TO FRANCE, ON 08/03/1916. APPOINTED LANCE CORPORAL, ON 30/06/1916. PROMOTED TO LANCE SERGEANT, ON 14/11/1916. KILLED AT OPPY WOOD, ON 03/05/1917, AGED 24, HE IS COMMEMORATED ON THE ARRAS MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING. HIS ARMY EFFECTS WENT TO HIS FATHER, JAMES.
HE LEFT BROTHERS, ALEXANDER AND GEORGE WALLACE, AND SISTERS, MRS ELIZABETH DUNCAN, MRS DOROTHY NEWLOVE, MRS ISABELLA ARNOT, AND KATE WALLACE.

Hull Pals Memorial Post. L/SERGEANT JAMES WATSON WALLACE 12/1353. Born in April 1893, James was one of seven children and the eldest son of James and Elizabeth Wallace of 40 Newbridge Road, Hull. A Sign Writer by trade he enlisted at City Hall on 2nd January 1915 joining the 12th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd Hull Pals. James served in Egypt with the rest of the Pals before arriving in France on 8th March 1916 disembarking ship in Marseilles and catching the train north to Armentieres and the trenches of the Western Front. He made Lance Corporal on 30th June, and was promoted again on 14th November. The date was significant. The day before had seen the ill-fated assault on enemy positions around the French village of Serre in the last desperate act of the Somme campaign. The Pals lost a lot of men. It could be that James acquited himself well that day, it could be the ranks of NCOs had simply been decimated, or it could be a bit of both. Either way, it having seen the year in as a Private, he saw it out as a Lieutenant Sergeant. James Watson Wallace was listed as missing on 3rd May 1917 at Oppy Wood and his body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial; he was 24 years old.

The attack on Oppy Wood, part of the Battle of Arras, was a significant battle for the East Yorkshire Regiment and particularly for the city of Hull.  All four Hull Pals battalions were involved on 3 May and all suffered heavy casualties, with 40% of those present killed or injured. 2nd Lieutenant Jack Harrison, a local teacher and rugby player with Hull FC, won a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery in rushing a machine gun position to protect his platoon. His body was never found.
The village of Oppy in France had been in German hands since October 1914 and was part of a formidable defensive system including trenches, dug-outs and thick barbed wire defences. During the Battle of Arras, which began in April 1917, the British tried to take Oppy. The first attack was a failure. A second attack was partially successful. The third attack on 3 May, known officially as the Third Battle of the Scarpe, was again unsuccessful with significant loss of life. The troops were ordered to attack at 3.45am, rather than at dawn, and the defending Germans could easily see the line of British soldiers clearly lit by the full moon. The British continued to attack Oppy and were finally successful the following year. The City of Hull Memorial at Oppy was unveiled in 1927 and commemorates the men of the Hull Pals who were killed on 3 and 4 May 1917.

First name:
JAMES WATSON
Military Number:
12/1353
Rank:
Lance Sergeant
Date Died
03/05/1917
Place died:
Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France
Age:
24
40 , NEW BRIDGE ROAD, HULL, EAST YORKSHIRE, UK