Wallace was born on 4th March 1891 in Claydon, Ipswich, Suffolk to parents Herbert and Ellen, the couple’s first child.
By 1898 the family, which was now growing, had moved to London and Wallace was enrolled at the Harrow Road School on 4th July 1898 giving their home address as 33 Hormead Road, Westminster (see photo).
On the 1901 census the Archer family had moved to 129 Gladstone Avenue, Wood Green, Tottenham, London, Wallace was aged ten and his father worked as a printer compositor (their 1901 residence also still exists, viewable on Google Maps).
In the following ten years Herbert and Ellen’s family grew to a total of eleven children and by the 1911 census Wallace worked as a plumber and gas fitter by day and came home to a bustling home in the evening; a strapping twenty year old compared to his tiny youngest sibling of four months, baby Ernest. A year later Wallace joined the Navy for 12 years service on 23rd September 1912.
He was recorded as 5'3" tall with brown hair and grey eyes and began his training at HMS PEMBROKE II as a Stoker 2nd Class on 23rd September 1912 until 11th February 1913. He embarked to his only ship posting - HMS VANGUARD - the next day. Wallace rose in rank on 11th July 1913 to Stoker 1st Class and was aboard the ship during the Battle of Jutland in 1916, remaining until the dreadnought’s explosion the following year.
Wallace made many friends on HMS VANGUARD, as seen in the studio and crew images.
One particular friend he mentioned in letters to home was that of a Mr Percy Adams who also lived at Wood Green. Percy also served aboard the ship and only survived the explosion as he was on leave at the time, possibly swapped by Wallace so that Percy could visit his wife.
Wallace was awarded the Star, Victory and British war medals following his death - all three medals were issued to his father while his pension was awarded to his mother. He is remembered in perpetuity on the Chatham Naval Memorial and locally on the Wood Green Wall Memorial.
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England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1901 & 1911 England Census
London, England, School Admissions and Discharges, 1840-1911 London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; School Admission and Discharge Registers; Reference: LCC/EO/DIV02/HAR/AD/003
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 899
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 007 (1914 - 1919)
UK, Navy Lists, 1888-1970 National Library of Scotland; Edinburgh, Scotland; British Navy Lists. National Library of Scotland, 2020. https://doi.org/10.34812/y3wn-j486; Reference: 92149074
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 94
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; WWI Pension Record Cards and Ledgers; Reference: 006/0022/APP-ARC
Images courtesy of Google Maps and Caroline McGill