Alexander Brown Wallace

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 39th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Seine, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Tyne Cot Cemetery
Row: C
Grave: 20

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Alexander Brown Wallace was born in 1889 in Melbourne, Victoria. He was one of five children. Before he enlisted in the army he worked as a labourer.

When he first enlisted in 1915, he was found medically unfit for duty. When he enlisted again, however, on July 24th 1916, he was allowed to join the army. He was taken on by the 39th Battalion Australian Infantry, which was part of the 10th Australian Brigade, of the 3rd Australian Division. Alexander was killed in action on October 4th 1917, in what would become known as the Battle of Broodseinde, a stage of the Third Battle of Ypres.

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 Brigade towards Hamburg and Tyne Cottage, along the northern bank of the Ypres-Roulers Railroad, was carried by the 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th Battalions.

The men awaited zero hour, 6 a.m. in a line of shell holes along the Zonnebeke-Langemark Road. 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. 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 brunt of the German barrage came down on the 2nd Australian Division, on the right flank.

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. Some opposition was met near the first objective at Judah House. But the assembled German troops were completely overwhelmed by the heavy barrage. Many of them were utterly disorientated. The ones who had survived the shelling were killed or were taken prisoners. Most Germans in the pillboxes, were taken by surprise and were rushed by the Australians. Many Germans chose to surrender.

After the 37th and 38th Battalions had consolidated their objectives the 39th continued the attack. They were briefly held up near Seine, by machine-gun fire coming from Abraham Heights and Beecham Farm, in the New Zealand Division’s area. The New Zealanders were able to deal with the guns on Abraham Heights and the guns near Beecham Farm were dealt with by the 40th Battalion on the left.

By 8.50 a.m. all objectives had been captured. The battalion consolidated their positions. Casualties were sustained due to persistent machine-gun- and sniper fire from Dab Trench and Berlin Wood. Over 100 men of the 39th were subsequently sent up to help capture and consolidate the 40th objective.

In the evening, the 39th Battalion was relieved by the the Manchesters of the 66th British Division.

All objectives were captured and the division was praised afterwards. Even though the attack had been a success, the cost had been high. Alexander, 28, was killed in action on the 4th of October 1917. He was initially buried in the field between Seine and Beecham.

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