Austen Bowen Wallis


Born in Smethwick about 1894, he was living at Monkseaton in Northumberland, when he was commissioned in 1915 as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion DLI at South Shields and was attached to the 12th (Service) Battalion DLI for service overseas. In late June 1916, 12 DLI was ordered south to the Somme but did not move into the front line until early July. On 3 October, the battalion marched in rain and mud to trenches south of the ruined village of Le Sars to prepare for a major attack. 12 DLI was then ordered to seize 'The Tangle' - a German strong point to the east of the village defended by machine guns - and then a heavily defended sunken road. At 1.45pm on 7 October 1916, 12 DLI advanced towards 'The Tangle', supported by a tank armed with two machine guns. Though the tank was destroyed, the attack was successful and 70 German prisoners were captured but 30 DLI soldiers died in the attack and many more were wounded. Among the wounded was Second Lieutenant Wallis, who was hit in both legs by a rifle bullet and, after gangrene set in, his right leg had to be amputated. Austen Wallis was forced to resign his commission in 1917.