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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 267458
2/7th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who was killed in action on Wednesday, 27th September 1917
Age 23

No Known Grave Panel 99 to 102 & 162 to 162a
Memorial to the "Missing", Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, West Flanders, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium1

William Wallis was born in Kegworth, Leicestershire in 18942, the youngest son of Samuel (b. 1856, Kegworth) and Annie, his wife (b. 1856, Kegworth, née Belton). For a short time, Samuel had kept the Bull's Head pub in Belton, Leicestershire but, by 1901, he was working as a jobbing gardener and living in Mount Pleasant, Ashby Road, Kegworth, Leicestershire with his wife and their five children3. Sadly, Samuel died in 1903, aged only 444. In 1911, Annie and the three youngest members of her family, were living at The Rookery, Pleasant Pace, Kegworth. William, then age 17, was working as a farm labourer5.

As William's Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted, but it was probably in September 19166 with Sherwood Foresters. By this date, it appears that he had moved to Beeston7. After initial training, he joined the 2/7th Battalion which had returned from Ireland in January 1917. In 1916 it had been sent to Dublin to help quell the Easter Rising. It is likely that Private Wallis was with the regiment when it left for France in February 1917 and soon took part in the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenbug Line8.

Then on the last day of July, the three-month long series of bitter battles which made up the Third Battle of Ypres - also known as Passchendaele - with 2/7th battalion taking a full part in both the Battle of Menin Road and the Battle of Polygon Wood towards the end of September. In the Polygon Wood attack on the 26th September, the battalion was positioned west of Sciler Galleries ready to move off. At 5.50am the 2/7th were detailed to take the ground as far east as Fokker Farm. The attack went entirely according to plan and all objectives were taken within the planned timetable. A later German counter-attack caused problems but the positions were held. On that day, and the days following there were heavy casualties totaling 7 officers and 238 other ranks injured. One officer and 36 men were killed and 48 were missing. It appears that Private Wallis was amongst those recorded as missing on the 27th9.

As Private Wallis's body was never identified he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing within the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery of that name. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. On the forward slope of the Passchendaele Ridge is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. The cemetery and its surrounding memorial are located outside of Passchendaele, near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The Cross of Sacrifice is to be found in a central position in the cemetery, at the base of the cross a small patch of the original German Block House can still be seen, contained within a bronze wreath, while on the far side, between it and the memorial wall, is a collection of some 300 graves. These are the original battlefield burials left where they were found after the Armistice. The other some nearly 12,000 graves which stand in parade ground order, were brought in from the surrounding area after the Armistice. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. On completion of the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres, it was discovered that it was too small to contain all the names that were originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15th August was chosen and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial instead. The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces and a further 1,176 New Zealanders.10.

Private Wallis was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal11. His financial effects, amounting to 2 9s were paid to his mother on 21 November 1918 and she was also paid his War Gratuity of 3 10s on 17 November 191912.

In addition to his entry on the memorial in Beeston Parish Church, Private Wallis is remembered on a memorial in St Andrews Church, Kegworth and the shrine and memorial in Kegworth churchyard13.

1The photograph of the Tyne Cot Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Shardlow Registration District (of which Kegworth was part) in Q1/1894 (Ref 7b 473).
3Kegworth, Leicestershire, 1901 Census, Piece 3204 Folio 133). William's siblings were Thomas (b. c1883), Nellie (or Ellen, b. c1885), Mabel (b. c1887) and Samuel (b. 1892).
4Samuel's death was registered in Shardlow Registration District (of which Kegworth was part) in Q2/1903 (Ref 7b 279).
5Kegworth, Leicestershire, 1911 Census, Piece 2081 RD434 SD1 ED7 Sched 78.
6The probable date of William's enlistment has been calculated from the amount of his War Gratuity.
7He is recorded as a resident of Beeston in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'. No other details have been identified.
8Details of the battalion's deployment are based on the Robin Hoods website (www.therobinhoods.org.uk/orbat2.shtml) 9This account of the battalion's involvement in the Battle of Polygon Wood is derived from its war diary with some detail added from the diary of 2/8th Battalion, which was in support.
10The description of the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
11Details from William's Medal Card - available on ancestry.com.
12Details from "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
13See his entry on the Leicestershire County Council War Memorial Project website (www.leicestershirewarmemorials.co.uk/war/casualty/view/18302).

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