Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 2, 1898
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Elizabeth L. Shaw, 1316 Cotton Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia
Trade / CallingSoldier
Service Details
Regimental Number761033
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion102nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Address at Enlistment11th Regiment, Irish Fusiliers of Canada, Vancouver, B.C.
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 10, 1916
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 22, 1960
Age at Death62
Buried AtForest Lawn Memorial Park, Burnaby, British Columbia
PlotField of Honour

Shaw, Wallis

Private Wallis Shaw joined the militia when the war started then enlisted with an overseas battalion in 1916 at age 17. He served in France and Belgium with the 102nd Battalion. After suffering gas poisoning at the Battle of Passchendaele he was invalided to Canada in 1918.

Wallis was the youngest son of William Mulligan Shaw and Elizabeth McIntyre of Vancouver, British Columbia. William was born around 1820 in Fredericksburg, Ontario and he had at least eight children with his first wife, Debra Ann Powley. Census records listed him as a store keeper and farmer. His wife died in Kingston in 1880 and by 1891 William and some his children had moved to Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. In 1892 his youngest daughter Ida was married in Rat Portage to William James Stanton.

Wallis’ mother Elizabeth McIntyre was born around 1852 in Escott, Ontario, a small town northeast of Kingston. She married George Francis Stanton in 1871 and they had two sons, William James (b.1872) and Irving (b.1878). By 1891 Elizabeth was widowed and living in Kingston with the two boys. The following year her son William James married Ida Shaw in Rat Portage and by 1897 Elizabeth had moved there too.

Elizabeth married William Mulligan Shaw, her son’s father-in-law, in June 1897 in Rat Portage. William was 77 years old and their only child, Percival Wallace (Wallis) was born on 2 May 1898. William worked as a gardener and farmer and they were still in Rat Portage at the time of the 1901 census. A few years later they moved west to Vancouver and William died there in March 1909, at age 89.

Wallis and his mother stayed in Vancouver and he found work as a messenger and telegraph boy. In August 1914 when the war started he was 16 years old and he joined a local militia unit, the 11th Regiment Irish Fusiliers of Canada. He trained with them for about 18 months, spending the summer of 1915 at Camp Vernon near Vernon, BC. In November the 11th Regiment began recruiting for the 121st (Western Irish) Overseas Battalion and Wallis enlisted with the new unit on 10 February 1916 in Vancouver. In March he came down with the measles and he was laid up for three weeks. The battalion trained at Camp Vernon over the spring and summer then left by train for the east coast, embarking from Halifax on 14 August 1916 on the Empress of Britain and landing in England ten days later.

In December Wallis was drafted to a front line unit, the 102nd Battalion (North British Columbians), and sent to France. A few weeks after arriving at the Canadian Base Depot he became ill with pleurisy and pneumonia. He spent the next month at a hospital and convalescent centre in Le Havre. When he recovered he was attached to an entrenching battalion for two weeks before joining his unit in the field in mid-February. That winter the Canadians were across from Vimy, holding the front line and undergoing intensive training for their next major assault, the Battle of Vimy Ridge. During the six-day battle the 102nd Battalion suffered heavy casualties in the attack on Hill 145, at the north end of the ridge. After the ridge was captured they stayed in the area and had regular rotations in the front line. They also formed work parties and carried out raids and patrols. In August they were at the Battle of Hill 70, near Lens in France, and in October they moved north to the Ypres Salient for the assault on Passchendaele Ridge.

The Battle of Passchendaele was planned to take part in several phases starting on 26 October. The 102nd Battalion arrived on the outskirts of Ypres on 22 October and provided work parties during the next eight days. The weather was cold and very wet and the men suffered due to a shortage of winter clothing. On 30 October they were ordered to relieve another unit and according to the war diary they moved to the trenches on a duck walk, ‘composed of two lines of bath mats laid over the mud which was deep enough to engulf a man up to his armpits.’ They were heavily shelled on the way in and all the next day. Wallis was one of 40 casualties suffered by his unit. He was poisoned by a gas shell and apparently lay unconscious for 4-5 hours after being gassed. He was taken to a field ambulance on 1 November, admitted to No. 5 General Hospital in Rouen the next day then evacuated to England on 12 November.

Wallis spent a month being treated at Bath War Hospital followed by two weeks at a convalescent centre in Wokingham. During that time he was assigned to the BC Regiment Depot. He was found to be medically unfit for further service and in March 1918 he was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Convalescent Depot pending his return to Canada. He arrived back in Canada in April 1918 and was posted to No. 11 District Depot in Victoria, British Columbia. A medical exam in July found him still unfit and he was discharged on 3 August 1918 in Victoria.

Wallis returned to Vancouver and found work as a fireman on the railroad. He was married in New Westminster on 6 April 1921 to Ella Christina Reilly, a telephone operator. Ella was born in 1901 in Boston, Massachusetts and came to Canada around 1912 with her family. Her parents, Joseph and Ann Reilly, were both originally from Prince Edward Island and her father worked as a police constable in Vancouver.

Wallis and Ella raised two children, Wallace and Patricia. Around 1945 Wallis started working for Veterans Affairs in the transportation department at Shaughnessy Veterans Hospital, and he was with them for 15 years. He passed away on 22 November 1960, at age 62. Ella died in 1984 in Burnaby General Hospital and they are both buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Burnaby.

By Becky Johnson

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