The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

7239 / 479121 / 12830 Sergeant Major Instructor (Warrant Officer Class I) James Duncan Stirling Wallace

3rd (Special Service) Battalion, The RCR
The Royal Canadian Regiment

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

James Duncan Stirling Wallace was born on 11 Dec 1880 at Essex Centre, Ontario. His parents were Robert Charles, a blacksmith, and Agnes Sterling (nee McLaren) Wallace. The Wallace family is shown in the 1891 Canadian Census for Essex Centre. Robert (53) and Agnes (50) are listed with five of their children at home; Jennie (22), Maggie (20), Aggie (18), Lena (14), and James (10). An older son had already left the family home and two sons had died in childhood before this census.

On 12 Mar 1900, Wallace enlisted for service with 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry. Formed to garrison Halifax and replace the 1st Battalion Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) for service in South Africa, the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion would spend two years on the ramparts of Citadel Hill and other sentry points in the Nova Scotia capital. Housed principally at Wellington Barracks, they would become an integral part of the military presence in that garrison city. During the unit's brief existence the regimental title would change on 1 Nov 1901 from "Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry" to "The Royal Canadian Regiment." Wallace would serve for 2 years, 206 days, with this unit at Halifax. Wallace would complete a class of instruction in Drill during April 1902. In October, 1902, the 3rd (Special Service) Battalion, The RCR, was disbanded.

Wallace joined with the Permanent Force on 29 Oct 1904, enlisting with The Royal Canadian Regiment at Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario. A 24-year-old shipping clerk, he was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds, with a 38 1/2-inch chest, a dark (ruddy) complexion, hazel eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Presbyterian. Wallace identified his father, Robert C. Wallace, Brant Co. Ont., as his next of kin. On attesting with the The RCR, Wallace was given the regimental number 7239. On attesting, Wallace took his Oath before Capt & (Brevet) Major A. Edward Carpenter (The RCR), and was examined for fitness by the garrison's surgeon, Lieut.-Col. C.W. Belton (P.A.M.C.)

The troops of the company stations of the Permanent Force units served a variety of purposes. Firstly, of course, they were available for tasks as assigned by the Government of the day and the Militia Department, whether those be local garrison duties, strike-breaking in aid of the civil power, or other such assignments as they arose. On a day to day basis, the troops served as a training vehicle and demonstration troops for the ongoing training of Militia officers and NCOs who attended the Royal Schools or were attached to the Permanent Force units for training. The soldiers of the Permanent Force were also the "farm team" for the Non-Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers who left on extra-regimental employment in the Instructor cadre across the country. A man might serve in one of the company garrisons for years developing and proving his professional skills, and then meet with rapid promotion as positions opened up for him to advance into.

Wallace proved that his experiences in Halifax has stood him in good stead when he was appointed Lance Corporal at No. 1 Regimental Depot (London, Ont.) on 1 May 1905. That fall, on 1 Sep 1905, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal, having been transferred to No. 2 R.D. (St John, P.Q.). Not quite a year later, Wallace would again be promoted. On 1 Aug 1906, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, at No. 2 R.D.

On 1 Oct 1906, Wallace would complete a class of instruction in Musketry during October 1906. An an NCO in "C" Company (Halifax, N.S.), he would re-engage for subsequent three-year terms on 29 Oct 1907 and 29 Oct 1910. Wallace would leave the ranks of the Companies after eight years of service in the permanent Force. On 1 Jun 1912, he was appointed to the Physical Training Instructional Staff, on probation.

The 1912 Report of The Militia Council for the Dominion of Canada described the Instructional Cadre as follows:

"Instructional Cadre.

"An Instructional Cadre of cavalry and infantry non-commissioned officers has been organized to assume the duties of the instruction of the Active Militia. These non-commissioned officers are selected from units of the Permanent Force after a special course in instructional duties and, on passing a qualifying examination, they are posted to the Cadre.

"At present the establishment of the Instructional Cadre is 101. This allows of one non-commissioned officer to every two regiments of cavalry or battalions of infantry, but as more instructors become available, and as they may be found useful or necessary, the establishment may be increased to meet requirements.

"Detailing certain non-commissioned officers to perform the duty of instructing the Active Militia leaves the Permanent Force more free to perform its own necessary training, and prevents the interference of the one duty with the other to the extent which formerly obtained, while the absence of non-commissioned officers on instructional duty does not now deprive the permanent units of the non-commissioned officers required to carry on their own regimental work. The system also ensures better instruction for the Active Militia.

"Provision has also been made for the non-commissioned officers of the Instructional Cadre to revert to regimental duty, periodically, to prevent them losing touch with practical work."

On 1 Jul 1913, Wallace was promoted Colour Sergeant Instructor. Later that month he was posted west, accepting a reduction in rank to take an available position, when he was transferred to Military District No. 11 (Victoria Esquimalt, B.C.) as Sergeant Instructor on 26 Jul 1913 where he would be part of the Instructor Cadre dispersed across the country at local headquarters.

The 1912 Report of The Militia Council described the role of the Instructional Cadre at local headquarters across the country:

"Instruction at Local Headquarters.

"The organization of the Instructional Cadre has rendered it possible to instruct squadrons and companies at local headquarters in a way which has never before been feasible. One non-commissioned officer is detailed to one or two regiments for the whole of the non-training period, i.e. from October to May, and is available to conduct classes whenever desired. In this way officers, and more especially non-commissioned officers, should be able to obtain sufficient instruction by means of "preparatory classes", before attending a permanent school, to ensure their qualifying at the school in two weeks time.

"It is hoped that it will also be possible to collect classes of non-commissioned officers and men for preliminary instruction and squad drill before going into camp."

Wallace re-engaged again on 29 Oct 1913 as a member of the Physical Training Staff, M.D. No. 11.

Wallace married Carrie Jane Hicks at Vancouver, B.C., on 10 Mar 1915. Newfoundland born, Carrie had emigrated to Canada in 1912.

Wallace was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor (Q.M.S.I.) on 1 Jul 1915. Two and a half years later, on 1 Nov 1917, he was promoted Warrant Officer, P.I. Staff, M.D. No. 11

On 22 Jun 1918, Wallace transferred to the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) in Canada at Esquimalt, B.C. He was given the C.E.F. service number 479121. As the end First World War was in sight, officers and NCOs who had spent the war years in various staff and administrative positions in Canada were given the opportunity to enlist in the C.E.F. For many it meant recognition of "wartime service" (this also means their service records have survived). For a select few, it also meant that long-awaited chances to serve overseas in the theatre of war opened up to them, but Wallace was not among this latter group.

Continuing to serve as a member of the C.E.F. in Canada, Wallace was posted from No. 6 Station, The RCR (C.E.F.), on 28 Feb 1919 back to the Instructional Cadre. On 1 Dec 1919, he was attached to No. 5 Company, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery (R.C.G.A.) and returned to the Instructional Cadre on 14 May 1920.

Wallace was discharged from the CEF at Victoria, B.C., on 15 May 1920. He was issued a Class "B" War Service Badge, numbered 92905. Wallace's discharge certificate notes a Union Jack tattoo on his left forearm. On returning to serve with the Permanent Force after his discharge from the C.E.F., Wallace was given a new RCR service number, 12830, as the Regiment was re-enrolled in the post war organization.

On 18 Jun 1920, Wallace was taken on the strength of the No. 11 District Depot Casualty Company and struck off strength on demobilization. With plans to continue serving in the Permanent Force, Wallace's intended place of residence after discharge was the Work Point Married Quarters, Victoria, B.C. For his service with the CEF in Canada, Wallace was entitled to receive a War Service Gratuity of $230.

James Wallace and his family are shown in the 1921 Canadian Census for Esquimalt, B.C. James (37) and Carrie (24) are shown with two children; Margaret (4) and Robert James (2). A third child, another daughter, would be born after this time.

On 1 Jul 1921, Wallace is shown as returned to the Instructional Cadre. He appears in the Dominion Government's Departmental Reports for 1924-25 (pub. 1927). Listed under the Permanent Force members of the Instructional Cadre at Victoria and Esquimalt, B.C., Wallace is shown to have been paid $1,149 for 303 days service with the Cadre. He also received a further $1,278.95 in allowance, these paid under a Cadet Services portfolio. In the 1929 Reports, he is shown to have received $2,153.50 in pay and allowances for the year.

Wallace transferred to the P.P.C.L.I. at the rank of S.M.I. (W.O. I) on 30 Jun 1926. By 1930 he was still being identified as a member of the Instructional Cadre at Victoria-Esquimalt.

James Wallace died on 21 Mar 1949 at Vancouver, B.C. The cause of death was recorded as cardiac dilatation. He was survived by his wife, Carrie Jane Wallace. James is buried in Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby, B.C.

Pro Patria


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