Wallace, Robert Hugh (No. 5619)

Wallace, Robert Hugh (Bob)

Company Sergeant Major

No. 5619, ‘C’ Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Saturday 18 August 1917 (aged 40)

Buried:

Calais Southern Cemetery, France (Plot H Row 3 Grave 4)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Carrickfergus Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Nicholas)

BIOGRAPHY

The death of Company Sergeant Major Robert Hugh (Bob) Wallace was reported in the 1 September 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Two Popular North Down WOs Killed.

In some records he is incorrectly reported to be a son of Robert and Mary Wallace.  In other records his forename is incorrectly reported as Peter.

Robert Hugh Wallace was born on 10 October 1876 in Church Street, Ballymena and he was a son of Henry and Elizabeth (Eliza) Wallace (nee O’Brien) who were married on 30 June 1875 in Ballymena.

The Wallace family lived in Mount Street, Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Henry Wallace was a boot maker and shopkeeper and he and Elizabeth had at least four children:

Robert Hugh (born 10 October 1876 in Church Street, Ballymena)

Mary (born 16 April 1878; died 22 April 1928 aged 50)

Jane (born 19 August 1879; died 9 January 1962 aged 82)

Gordon (born 1 February 1886 in Church Street, Ballymena; died 4 April 1955 aged 69)

Their father, Henry Wallace, died of anaemia at Mount Street, Ballymena on 7 June 1904 (aged 75).  Their mother, Eliza Wallace, died on 27 August 1925.

Robert Hugh Wallace was a career soldier; he enlisted in Glasgow and served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in the South African War.  It is on record that he was held as a prisoner-of-war after being captured at Reddersburg in April 1900.  He was released soon afterwards.

He ended the South African War with the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal and the King’s South Africa Medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902.

After that he was stationed in Dublin and then in India.  He served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and later was posted to the 4th Battalion, Royal North Downs, at Newtownards.

Company Sergeant Major Robert Hugh Wallace was married twice.

Robert Hugh Wallace and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Smyth were married on 30 March 1905 in Dublin Registry Office.  At the time, he was a Sergeant in the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles stationed at Portobello Barracks in Dublin.  Lizzie Smyth from 5 South King Street, Dublin was a daughter of Charles Smyth, a coach trimmer.

Robert Hugh and Lizzie Wallace (nee Smyth) had at least five children:

Unnamed female child (born prematurely and died 15 January 1906 in Holles Street Hospital, Dublin while the family was living at 32 Synge Street, Dublin)

Ellen Elizabeth (born 21 November 1907 in Meerut, Bengal, India; died of bronchitis 21 February 1938 at 8 South King Street, Dublin aged 30)

Charles Henry (born 10 June 1909 in John Street, Newtownards)

Mary (born 22 May 1911 in John Street, Newtownards)

Kathleen (born 11 July 1914 in John Street, Newtownards)

Robert Hugh Wallace was a Sergeant Major when Lizzie died of heart disease at her mother’s home in South King Street, Dublin on 12 March 1916 (aged 34).

Robert Hugh Wallace and Isabella Shields were married on 17 December 1916 in Carrickfergus Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Nicholas).  At the time, Robert Hugh Wallace, a widower, was a Company Sergeant Major in the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles stationed at Sunnylands Camp, Carrickfergus and he was a son of Henry Wallace, a shopkeeper.  Isabella Shields from Lancastrian Street, Carrickfergus was a daughter of James and Sarah J. Shields.  James Shields worked as a postman.  When she and Robert Hugh Wallace were married, Isabella Shields already had a son named Samuel Shields, who was born on 23 January 1914.  After his mother’s marriage to Robert Hugh Wallace, Samuel was known as Samuel Shields Wallace.

When Robert Hugh Wallace was serving with the Royal North Downs the family home was in John Street, Newtownards and when Company Sergeant Major Bob Wallace died of wounds on 18 August 1917 in No. 30 General Hospital, Calais, France his wife was living in Lancastrian Street, Carrickfergus.

Company Sergeant Major Bob Wallace was buried in Calais Southern Cemetery, France and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

FATHER, YOU ARE GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN,

NEVER SHALL YOUR MEMORY FADE

BY HIS CHILDREN

Company Sergeant Major Bob Wallace is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and on the memorial tablet in Carrickfergus Church of Ireland Church (St Nicholas).

Company Sergeant Major Bob Wallace was entitled to British War Medal and the Victory Medal and it is on record that they were issued and returned.

It was in 1917 that Company Sergeant Major Bob Wallace went to France with the British Expeditionary Force and in April that year he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Isabella Wallace died of influenza at her mother’s home in Lancastrian Street, Carrickfergus on 30 October 1918 (aged 33).  Her son, Samuel Shields Wallace, was four when his mother died and he died of bronchial pneumonia on 20 August 1958 (aged 44).