- Tyne Cot Cemetery
- Plot: 34
- Row: C
- Grave: 20
Distinctions and medals
Private Alexander Brown Wallace was born in 1889 in Melbourne, Victoria. He was one of five children of his parents Alexander and Amy Elizabeth. Before he enlisted in the army he worked as a labourer. He first enlisted in 1915, but was found medically unfit for duty. When he enlisted again on July 24th 1916, he joined the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion, part of the 10th Australian Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division. He was killed in action of October 4th 1917 in what would become known as the Battle of Broodseinde, a stage in the Third Battle of Ypres that would result in the capture of the Broodseinde Ridge.
The 3rd Australian Division went into the Battle of Broodseinde on October 4th with two brigades, the 10th and 11th Australian Brigades. The attack of the 10th Australian Brigade towards Tyne Cot, along the northern bank of the Ypres-Roulers Railway, was carried out by the 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th Battalions. The men had occupied positions in shell holes along the Zonnebeke-Langemark Road, where they awaited zero hour (6 a.m.). The assembly tape ran from D.21.a.3.10. to D.21.a.7.0. At 5.30 a.m. the German artillery put down a massive barrage on the assembly line. The German’s weren’t expecting an attack, but were planning an attack themselves and the shelling was part of a preliminary barrage. By chance the Germans had chosen the same day as the Allied Troops to advance, but they were unaware of the Australian and New Zealand troops in front of them. The German barrage came down on the 2nd Division on the right flank of the 3rd Division and the 3rd Division got splashings of it. The 39th Battalion suffered few casualties during this stage, however.
At 6 a.m. the allied barrage came down 200 yards in front of the assembled troops and at 6.05 a.m. the troops advanced, completely surprising the German troops. The Germans had planned their attack at 6.15 a.m. and were caught off guard. However, the allied troops faced problems of their own because owing to the bad lighting and battle smoke it was impossible to keep formations. During the halts of the barrage, some serious reorganization had to be done. The first serious opposition was met at Judah Galleries, but due to the surprising effect the allied troops had on the Germans, they were able to capture over 40 prisoners. At this point the 37th and 38th Battalions had consolidated their objectives and the 39th Battalion was waiting at the objective of the 38th Battalion to move forward. While waiting, however, they were subjected to serious machine gun fire from Abraham Height and from some ruins in front of Beecham Farm. The New Zealanders were able to deal with the guns on Abraham Heights and the guns near Beecham Farm were dealt with by the 39th Battalion. The 39th Battalion eventually reached their objective at 8.30 a.m. and immediately started consolidating. During this consolidation casualties also occurred due to fire from machine guns in concrete dugouts on the southern portion of Dab Trench and from snipers in Berlin Wood. These were later on dealt with by the New Zealanders and the 40th Battalion. The final line that was consolidated ran from D.16.b.0.8. to D.16.b.3.10 to D.17.c.3.9. In the evening, the 39th Battalion was relieved by the Manchesters 198th Brigade of the 66th Division.
Eventually all the objectives of the attack were captured and the division was praised for its successful actions afterwards. Even though the attack had been a success, it did cost the lives of many soldiers, including Private Wallace. Besides the fact that he was “killed in action” not much is known about his death or where exactly he fell. What is known, is that he was originally buried at D.16.c.8.7. just behind where the new front line was established. It is possible that he was buried where he had fallen in between the Springfield and Seine area. He was later reburied at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, not far from where he was killed, Plot 34 Row C Grave 20.