52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #15 – Anzacs at War 34th Battalion: Wallace Baker

Posted: April 27, 2014 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

My great uncle Wallace Baker enlisted in WW1 and both joined the 34th Battalion. Wallace was not alone when he joined, Walter McGuire also from Boggabri and my grandmother’s first cousin also joined the 34th Battalion.

Wallace was born in March 1897 to Alfred Baker & Ellen Matthews.

Wallace Baker

  • Service Number: 9
  • Rank: Private
  • Roll title: 34 Infantry Battalion (May 1916)
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Date of embarkation: 2 May 1916
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney
  • Ship embarked on: HMAT Hororata A20

Wallace was almost 19 years old when he enlisted on the 10th December 1915. He was a labourer and his next of kin was his mother Ellen Baker. From his service record, it’s noted that in November 1916, he proceed to France and in December 1916 he was detached for duty to Div Headquarters in France. He re-joined the unit on the 8th October 1917 and 4 days later was wounded in action with a GSW to his face and mouth.

From what little information I know about the Western Front battles and from doing a quick search, I think Wallace was wounded at Passchendaele

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The First Battle of Passchendaele took place on 12 October 1917 in the Ypres Salient area of the Western Front, west of Passchendaele village, during the Third Battle of Ypres in World War I. The Allied plan to capture Passchendaele village was based on inaccurate information about the result of the previous attack of 9 October, as the period of rainy weather continued. The attack took ground in the north but early gains around Passchendaele were mostly lost to German counter-attacks. The battle was a German defensive success, although costly to both sides”.

He was sent to Stratford Mil Hospital in England where he remained until he was discharged from hospital on the 14th November. Wallace re-joined his unit on the 6th January 1918. There is nothing in his service record between January and November of 1918, where he is admitted to hospital on the 6th November with influenza.

He returned to Australia on board the ship Borda on the 28th June 1919.

Wallace returned to live in Boggabri and married Myrtle Irene Ohara at Gunnedah in 1922. I do not know if they had any children. Looking at the New South Wales Electoral Rolls on Ancestry, I can find Wallace and Myrtle living at Lynn Street Boggabri in 1930 and in 1933 they are living at Hunter Street Wickham, near Newcastle.

I can find Myrtle living in Gunnedah in 1936 but Wallace appears to still be living in the Newcastle area. In 1936 he is living at Maitland Street, Tighes Hill, in 1937 and again in 1943, he is living at 52 Laman Street, Newcastle.

Wallace died at the Prince of Wales Hospital 16th September 1943 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

 

The battle honours of the 34th Battalion are:

Messines, 1917, Ypres, 1917, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Somme, 1918, Avre, Amiens, Albert, 1918, Mont St. Quentin, Hindenburg Line, St. Quentin Canal, France and Flanders, 1916-18 (source: 34th Battalion).

The battalion was formed in January 1916 during an expansion of the AIF that took place after the Gallipoli campaign.[1] Assigned to the 9th Brigade of the Australian 3rd Division,[2] the majority of the battalion’s personnel were volunteers that came from Maitland, New South Wales – many of whom had been coal miners – and as a result the unit became known as “Maitland’s Own”. Its initial recruits, though, came from north-west New South Wales, having marched from Walgett.[2] After initial training, the 34th Battalion, with an authorised strength of 1,023 men,[3] embarked in Sydney and sailed to Europe where the 3rd Division concentrated in the United Kingdom to undertake further training prior to joining the other four divisions of the AIF that had been transferred from Egypt in mid-1916” (Source: Wikipedia)

Other Sources used: 34th Battalion, AIF Project, 34th Battalion Wikipedia , National Archive Australia

 

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Comments
  1. Wow! My Great uncle Garnet Cyrus Crossing enlisted along with yours. Enlisted at Maitland showground and sailed to England on Hororato. Garnet was a labourer too . He was killed on 12th October at Passchendael aged 23 , in one of the fiercest days battle in the war. Half of his battalion was lost. That same day , his captain, Cpt, Clarence Jefferies was shot dead by a German machine gunner as they tried to take a pillbox full of Germans. He led a group of 12 men in that action. Captain Jefferies received a Victoria Cross for his bravery.Your family was very fortunate to have your relative return home. Cheers Roberta.

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