SERGEANT RONALD DANIEL WALLACE
27TH OCTOBER 1917 AGE 25
BURIED: NINE ELMS BRITISH CEMETERY, WEST FLANDERS, BELGIUM
It may not be immediately obvious but this inscription is one of the numerous ways that next-of-kin declared their trust in God. The words come from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, 32:2 and were chosen by Sergeant Wallace's fiancee, Ruth Wright.
"And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
In other words, this man, who will be our shield from the wind, our shelter from storms, who will be like refreshing water on dry land or shade from the burning sun, will be the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And it is in Jesus that Sergeant Wallace's fiancee will find her 'hiding place from the wind', her comfort in her grief. It's a very beautiful image.
According to a letter in his Red Cross file, Wallace died from gas poisoning:
"His dug-out at Hill 40 was blown up by a gas-shell on the 19th. He not only got himself out but he managed to get his mate Serg. Murray out as well and this is what killed him; he had no business to do it when he was gassed. The flesh was blown off Murray's feet and Wallace dressed him and then noticed the gas; but it was too late then. He came over to my dug-out about 2 am. I had two tubes of ammonia and gave him that and some tea and kept his mask on (you get more gas from the clothes than from the air) and kept him there the rest of the night and then sent him to the D/S [dressing station] in the morning. He died in Hosp. on the 27th but I do not know what Hosp. and I was too sick myself with the gas to make much enquiry at the time.
He was a School-teacher at Greenbushes; his people live at Jarradale Junction. He was engaged to Miss R. Wright; I have just got her address (Kenilms, Shenton Road, Claremont, W Aus) from his brother and I will write to her myself. "Ronnie' Wallace was a 'white man'; he would have had a commission but got on too well with his men. He was thoughtful for everyone. He had said to me 'I would not call you up; you have done your bit and there are plenty of big Sergts to do the work!
I was a Rifleman at that time; now S/B. He was C Co.
Ronald Wallace's eldest brother, Corporal Stephen Hubert Christian Wallace, was killed in action at Bony on 29 September 1918. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial.