Donald James WALLACE

WALLACE, Donald James

Service Number: 429418
Enlisted: 9 March 1942
Last Rank: Aircraftman
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 11 January 1924
Home Town: Longreach, Longreach, Queensland
Schooling: Toowoomba Grammar School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Pilot Officer
Died: Flying Battle, New Guinea, 24 August 1944, aged 20 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Lae Memorial, Longreach Memorial Pool & Aquatic Centre, Longreach War Memorial, Toowoomba Grammar School WW2 Honour Board
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World War 2 Service

9 Mar 1942: Enlisted
15 Sep 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, 429418, Brisbane, Queensland

A Lovely Young Man, My Uncle Don

Donald was the eldest child and only son, born 11 Jan 1924 in Longreach to Dr Thomas Irby and Sheila Malcolm Wallace (nee SCOTT).
Donald was a very caring and considerate young man. He would often try to calm his young sister Gaynor, who would be mad over something, by saying “Ahh Gaynee why get so upset”.
He attended the Longreach State School, before attending the Rockhampton Grammar Boarding School. It was here that he became quite unwell with Malaria, but the school believed him to be putting it on and forced him to continue to attend his classes. His father was finally called and on arrival found Don very unwell and pulled him from the school immediately. Once well enough to travel, he and his father returned to Longreach where Don convalesced.
Don was later sent to Toowoomba Grammar Boarding School (TGS) where he flourished in his sporting achievements. At the end of year 12, Don found he had not done well enough in his academic achievements to attend Medical School, his intention post-schooling. He decided to repeat year 12.
He continued to improve in his sports achievements, becoming the captain of the first 11’s Cricket team, captain of the first 15’s Rugby Team, and promoted to Cadet Lieutenant of the TGS Cadets on 30 Jun 1941. He was also joint Head Boy for that year. Unfortunately, his grades did not improve.
WW2 had broken out in the meantime and having now completed school, Don found he wanted to join up, but being under the age of 21 at the point, he needed to have at least one parent sign for him to join. His father Dr Thomas I. WALLACE signed the form much to his mother’s horror, but Tom explained that having wanted to join himself in WW1 and not being able to due to his damaged heart, he understood how his son felt and could not deny him the chance to fight.
Donald resigned as Cadet Lieutenant (TGS) on 24 Dec 1941, and on 15 Sept 1942 Joined up at the No. 3 Recruiting Office RAAF, Brisbane at the age of 18 years 8 months, after having been recruited in the B Coy. 11th Training Battalion Hughenden and 51st Bn, having spent 5 months there but discharged to join the RAAF.
At recruitment he was 6 feet ½ inch, 158lb, Dark complexion, Brown Eyes, Dark Brown Hair and Religion C of E (Church of England, later becoming Anglican), he had a Scar on the base of Rt Thumb and Oblique appendix scar. He was approved to be appointed to the 3. I.T.S. Kingaroy.
On 17 Dec 1942, he began training as Aircrew 5 (pilot).
14 Feb 1943 he started his Lance Corporal Pilot training.
4 Jul 1943 he began his Sergeant training.
12 July 1943 moved to Flight Sergeant training.
On 17 Sept 1943(??) he joined the 80th Squadron, which was based in Townsville, QLD.
From here 80 Squadron deployed to New Guinea and Dutch New Guinea.
On the 1st Aug 1944, Donald was promoted to Pilot Officer. At the time this information arrived at Longreach, Donald had just returned to New Guinea and was unaware of the change in rank.
On 24 Aug 1944, Donald’s Kittyhawk A29-631 was one of four aircraft which carried out a dive bombing attack on Babo airstrip, Dutch New Guinea. During the operation, A29-631 was hit by an anti-aircraft ack ack fire at approximately 6,000 feet. It burst into flames and continued down in a spiral dive finally crashing on the west side of Babo strip and exploding on impact. The pilot was not seen to bail out and in the opinion of the pilots of the accompanying aircraft he was in A29-631 when it exploded and was killed. Donald James Wallace was 20 years and 8 months old.
On 27 Apr 1945, it was recommended that 429418 Flight Sergeant (not filtered through he was now a Pilot Officer) Wallace, Donald James be officially presumed to have lost his life on 24 Aug 1944 as a result of Air Operations.
His mother Sheila refused to give up hope that he had survived and so no memorial was held for Donald. Her greatest concern though was that Don had survived and been tortured by the Japanese.
It was sometime later when the three other pilots visited Tom and Sheila and left them with no doubt that Don would not have been able to survive, that she finally accepted his death. Sheila never overcame the loss of her only son. For many years Sheila was visited by Billy Meares - Don’s best friend and an unofficial adopted son.
Donald’s name is on the Longreach ANZAC memorial, the Lae Memorial, New Guinea panel 6, and on the Roll of Honour Wall at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra panel 104. He is also honoured at his old school Toowoomba Grammar.

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Biography contributed by David Barlow

Pilot Officer Wallace 429418 of 80SQN RAAF was killed when Kittyhawk A29-631 was shot down near Babo, Dutch New Guinea - his body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Lae Memorial