Wallace Westerfield (West) BAKER

BAKER, Wallace Westerfield

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 25 May 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Gilberton, South Australia, 15 February 1891
Home Town: Mitcham, Mitcham, South Australia
Schooling: St Paul's C of E School, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Accountant
Died: GSW to head, Mouquet Farm, France, 22 August 1916, aged 25 years
Cemetery: London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval
Plot I, Row B, Grave 22
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, North Adelaide St Peter's Cathedral WW1 Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

25 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, Officer, Adelaide, South Australia
9 Mar 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: RMS Mongolia embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
9 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 10th Infantry Battalion, RMS Mongolia, Adelaide
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
22 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 10th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: 10 Battalion awm_rank: Second Lieutenant awm_died_date: 1916-08-22


Attended Pulteney Street School 1902-1903

Born at Gilberton, Wallace was one of three sons of Wallace and Amy Baker of Lower Mitcham. His childhood was spent in the Hackney area. After school he passed his civil service and accountancy examinations and worked as an accountant. He was considered a fine athlete and rower.

Wallace enlisted in June 1915 and received a commission in August. He embarked aboard the RMS Mongolia in March 1916, arriving in France in May. He reported for entrenching duty in June and was Killed in Action near Pozieres in August. His remains were found in 1936 after exhumation work carried out by the War Graves Commission. He was identified by the engraved silver watch found with his remains.

2nd Lieutenant Wallace Baker is buried at London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval, France.

Courtesy of Pulteney Grammar School

Showing 1 of 1 story

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

2nd Lt Wallace Westerfield Baker,
10th Australian Infantry Battalion,
3rd Brigade, 1st Australian Division
In the silent fields of the Somme, stand among the poppies, the graves of thousands of young men who, here, more than a hundred years ago, for their country and for France paid the supreme sacrifice and gave their lives, their today and their everything for the peace in which they always stand proudly and shows us, in their names eternally engraved in stone, their stories, their hopes, their dreams that the war shattered in the mud and barbed wire but who more than a hundred years later, still live through each of us because we are there because they were there, they transmitted to us their hopes for peace and the torch that we will transmit to future generations, we carry in our hands the flame of remembrance and in our hands, we will take the utmost care to keep the memories and stories of these men strong and alive who did so much for us and to whom we will be forever grateful.

Today, it is with the greatest respect and gratitude in my heart that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Second Lieutenant Wallace Westerfield Baker who fought in the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Australian Division, and who was killed in action 105 years ago, on August 22, 1916 at the age of 25 on the Somme front.

Wallace Westerfield Baker who was affectionately known as "West" was born on February 15, 1891 in Gilberton, near Adelaide, South Australia, and was the son of Wallace William Baker and Amy Eliza Baker (née Griffiths), of Egmont Terrace, Lower Mitcham, South Australia, and had three brothers,Robert John, Ralph Alderton, Alan Boyton, and one sister, Gwen May Susanna. West grew up in Hackney, South Australia, and was educated at St Paul's Church of England School, Adelaide, South Australia,then at the Pulteney Street School and at the Business College.He was of a most genial disposition, was a fine athlete, and was well known in rowing circles, where he had participated with the Mercantiles in championship races for several years and before the outbreak of the war, he worked as a clerk for the Municipal Tramways.

Wallace enlisted on May 25, 1915 in Adelaide, South Australia, as Second Lieutenant in the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion, 15th reinforcement, and after a ten month training period, he embarked with his unit from Adelaide, on board RMS Mongolia on March 9,1916,and sailed for Egypt.

In early April, Wallace arrived in Egypt and the following month, on May 20, 1916, he embarked on board Iverina and proceeded overseas for France.

After a six-day journey without inconvenience on the Mediterranean Sea, Wallace arrived in France and was disembarked in Marseilles on May 26, 1916 then marched for Etaples to join the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot on May 29 and two months later,on July 14 , joined the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion in the field, at Doullens, in the Somme then marched through Candas, Montrelet, Naours before reaching Herissart on July 16, Forceville on July 19 then Albert and the Sausage Valley on July 20 where Wallace and the 10th Battalion bivouacked in old British trenches until 10:00 pm on Saturday 22 July then proceeded to join the Black Watch Alley for the attack on Pozieres the next day which was, for the 10th Australian Infantry Battaillon and the whole AIF, the deadliest of the battles they experienced on the entire front of the Somme at the cost of terrible losses because in less than seven weeks of terrible fighting, 23,000 Australian soldiers were killed or wounded and the 10th Battalion which fought in Pozieres from July 22 until July 25, 1916 lost 350 men.

After the 10th Australian Infantry suffered terrible losses at Pozieres, they withdrew and urgently needed to reorganize and marched towards Berteaucourt then Bonneville where Wallace and his comrades were billeted and had a period of rest and training and on September 18, returned to Sausage Valley and on July 20, joined the front lines at Mouquet farm and received orders to attack and capture Mouquet Farm on August 21.

On the morning of August 21, 1916, in broad daylight, the 3rd Brigade attacked with great courage, supported by the 11th and 12th Australian Infantry Battalion but were quickly spotted by the Germans who opened terrible artillery barrage fire and machine gun fire and in one hour, the 10th Battalion lost 120 of its 620 officers and men and had to fall back.

On August 22,1916, an early morning mist enabled the men to work on a line joining the new position until the mist began to thin and shots were coming in from short range began to wound and kill the diggers. Later that day the AIF 1st Division was relieved. The 3rd Brigade had lost 840 in front of Mouquet Farm, and overall the 1st Division had lost 92 officers and 2,558 other ranks. The progress that had been made was miniscule, and the fruitless task was then handed over to the AIF 2nd Division.

Unfortunately, it was on August 22, 1916 that Wallace met his fate and was killed in action and Private number 4642 Robert Eyre Wothington Eyre,10th Australian Infantry Battalion, declared about Wallace:
"I saw him shot through the head and killed at Pozieres on August 22,out in the open. He was on the top of the sap leading us in the advance. "He was 25 years old.

After his death Wallace's body remained on the battlefield and was lost but years later, in 1935, the family was advised that West's remains had been found beneath the former battlefields around Mouquet Farm.He was identified by the watch presented to him when he gained his commission in 1915. Wallace was exhumed and buried with the highest respect and honor.

Today,Second Lieutenant Wallace Westerfield Baker rests in peace with his men, friends and brothers in arms at the London Cemetery And Extension, Longueval, Somme.

Unfortunately, Amy who had sent her four sons to the great war did not live long enough to see the return of three of her sons, she was, sadly, in 1918, the first person to die of an automobile accident in Adelaide.
Wallace, in the prime of your life you answered the call of duty and did your duty bravely for Australia and for France until your last breath and have, for peace and for freedom, paid the supreme sacrifice by giving your life in the poppy fields on which, alongside your brothers in arms, have shed your blood and fought with the greatest courage and have led your men with determination and conviction in a war that was supposed to end all wars.In front of young men as brave as you, you have served with pride and loyalty for Australia and your comrades, for France and humanity, you have stood with honor and loyalty in the trenches of the great war and have made the pride of your men who had the honor of being led by a man as exceptional as you, not only an officer but for them, you were above all a man who was at their side at every moment and who shared their lives, their fears and their doubts and who knew how to keep them united, determined and strong under fire, you knew how to make them smile in the worst moments that they endured, you were for them more than an ordinary man and saw in you a father they could trust and follow without fear because they knew that with you by their side, they would never be alone.Deeply respected and loved by all who knew you, you were a source of admiration and courage, a man who made his country proud and who fought with the ANZAC spirit, with gallantry, mateship, honor, determination and perseverance in the face of dangers and to death and who fearlessly moved forward across the battlefield at the head of your men and who stood proudly under the bullets and shells which rained down all around you at an unrelenting rate and which transformed once peaceful landscapes in fields of death which were hell on earth for millions of young men who fought in the Somme and who gave all they had in the mud and the clay, in the blood and the tears which were shed in the holes shells and barbed wire in which fell a whole generation of heroes who will always have my deepest respect, my gratitude and my admiration and on whom I am proud to watch to keep their memories alive and in to whom I would give all my energy, my heart and my life so that theirs are never forgotten.These young men who came from Australia to help France will always be considered with love and respect as our sons, Amiens, Pozieres, Villers-Bretonneux, Flers, Gueudecourt, will never forget Australia, we will never forget our Diggers which rest in peace on the sacred grounds of a friendly country under the united flags of Australia and France which remind us every day of the strong friendship which unites our two countries and which is for me a pride, an honor, a friendship that was born in the trenches and which today unites us in remembrance, under the flame of remembrance that will forever shine to honor the memory of all these young men who here, fought and fell and for all that you have done Wallace, I would, from the bottom of my heart say thank you.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.



Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Son of Wallace William BAKER and Amy Eliza nee GRIFFITHS


Lieutenant W. West Baker, who was killed in France on August 22, was the son of Mr. W. W. Baker, of Egmont-terrace, Lower Mitcham. He was educated at Pulteney-street school, and prior to enlisting he completed his studies for and passed the accountants' examination. Lieutenant Baker was held in high esteem, and his great industry and natural capability indicated that his would have been a successful career. He was recognised as a fine athlete, and was well known in rowing circles, having pulled an oar for the Mercantiles in championship races for several years. His loss will be keenly felt by a large circle of friends and much sympathy will be extended towards his parents, who have three more sons at the front." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 23 Sep 1916 (nla.gov.au)