10th Regiment, South African Infantry (South African Army)
Date Of Birth:
31/05/1916 (Killed in Action)
Robert Cecil Wallace was born on 20th March 1883. He was the eldest son of the Reverend Robert Wallace of Ballygoney, Coagh, and later of Omagh, County Tyrone, grandson of the Reverend John Knox Leslie of Cookstown, and a nephew of Dr. Richard Whytock Leslie of Cookstown who was the first Doctor of Campbell College, Belfast and a respected physician at the Ulster Hospital for Women and Children.
Robert Cecil Wallace was the eldest son of the Reverend Robert Wallace and Hannah Wallace (nee Leslie). They were married in Cookstown district on 31st August 1880. Robert was born on 20th March 1883 in the district of Cookstown.
The Reverend Robert Wallace was Minister in Ballygoney, Coagh from 1873 - 1890, and later of Omagh, County Tyrone.
Known family: Robert Wallace, Hannah Wallace, Ada Wallace (born 13th June 1881), Robert Wallace (born 20th March 1883), John Wallace (born 10th May 1884), Jean Wallace (born 19th November 1885), Selina Wallace (born 15th January 1887), Margaret Wallace (born 9th May 1889), Dorothy Wallace (born 23rd June 1891). All children were born in the Cookstown area except Dorothy, who was born in Omagh.
Robert was also the grandson of the Reverend John Knox Leslie of Cookstown, and a nephew of Dr. Richard Whytock Leslie of Cookstown who was the first Doctor of Campbell College, Belfast and a respected physician at the Ulster Hospital for Women and Children.
Robert Cecil Wallace was a pupil at Campbell College, Belfast between February 1898 and July 1901, and was regarded as one of the most promising Rugby footballers of his time. He played for the Old Mount Club and Knock, and was living with his widowed mother at 26 Cromwell Road, Belfast.
He immigrated to South Africa where he was employed at the Standard Bank in Johannesburg. He joined the Imperial Light Horse of the South African Field Force as a Trooper and subsequently received a commission.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Tanzania was the core of German East Africa, with Dar es Salaam as its capital. From the invasion of April 1915, Commonwealth Forces fought a difficult and protracted campaign against a relatively small but highly skilled German Force under the command of General von Lettow-Vorbeck. By 1916 the Commonwealth Forces came under the command of General Jan Smuts.
Trooper Jack Burrowes from Dungannon served with the South African Horse during the campaign and described the country as, “a ‘natural zoo’ and news often reaches us from the outside world rather slowly and fever is very prevalent among the men.”
By 9th March 1916, British and Colonial Forces had taken and occupied Taveta and by 29th May 1916 the War Office announced a new invasion of German East Africa.
On 31st May, the Germans retreated from Mombo on the Tanga railway towards Hendeni.
Dar es Salaam surrendered to British Forces on 3rd September 1916, but the war in this part of Africa continued until the Germans finally surrendered on 23rd November 1918, twelve days after the European Armistice. By this stage their numbers being reduced to 155 European and 1,168 African troops. General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck returned to Germany a national hero but in later years he became destitute, and on hearing of his former opponent’s plight, General Jan Smuts arranged (along with some former British and South African officers) a small pension to be paid to him until his death on 9th March 1964 at the age of 94.
Lieutenant Robert Wallace was killed in action on 31st May 1916, during the campaign in German East Africa and is buried in Plot 5, Row L, Grave; 3 at Dar es Salaam War Cemetery, Tanzania, Africa.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 10th June 1916:
WALLACE – Lieut Robert Cecil Wallace, elder son of the late Rev. Robert Wallace, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Omagh. Killed in action, German East Africa.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th June 1916:
Lieutenant Robert Cecil Wallace, South African Infantry, who has been killed in action in German East Africa, was the elder son of the late Rev Robert Wallace of Omagh and Ballygoney, and grandson of the Rev J K Leslie, Cookstown. The deceased was 33 years of age, and before emigrating to South Africa, lived with his widowed mother at Cromwell Road, Belfast. He was a pupil of Campbell College between 1898 and 1901, and was regarded as one of the most promising rugby football players of his day. He played for the old Mount Club and for Knock, and was a splendid kick, having as great a penchant for dropping goals as Lloyd. He was in the service of the Standard Bank in Johannesburg, and joined the Imperial Light Horse of the South African Field Force as a trooper, subsequently receiving a commission. He was a young man of lovable disposition, and his old rugby friends will learn with sorrow at his death. His younger brother was in Canada when the war broke out and volunteered for service and has been for a considerable time at the Front.
Robert Wallace’s cousin, 2nd Lieutenant James Lytton Millar, age 18 (whose mother came from Cookstown), was killed in action on 28th July 1916. He was the youngest former pupil of Campbell College to die in the First World War, and he is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery, France.