Major David Wallis, 1944

Officers of the 2nd Parachute Battalion, 1944

Major David W. Wallis


Unit : Headquarters, 2nd Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 93375

Awards : Mentioned in Despatches


David Wallis was Second-in-Command of the 2nd Parachute Battalion, and had joined them after they had returned from Italy in 1943. He had been good friends with Lieutenant-Colonel Frost before the war, and his new commander was delighted to have him as his deputy, regarding him as very gifted and ideal for the post. Having set about putting Battalion Headquarters into good order, Wallis also relieved Frost of the worries of parachute and weapons training.


At Arnhem Bridge, once Brigadier Lathbury had been declared missing, Frost was asked to take over 1st Parachute Brigade, and so command of the 2nd Battalion was passed to David Wallis. After Graebner's assault early on Monday morning, Wallis wrote a report on the progress of the battle, which was to be taken to London by carrier pigeon. According to Frost, the bird was reluctant to take to the skies at first, but did so after a measure of verbal abuse from the R.S.M.


Wallis was killed by friendly fire during the night of Monday 18th September. Two of "A" Company's forward posts had been overrun by German troops, and Wallis visited their headquarters to see what could be done. As he left their building he was hit in the chest by machine-gun fire and died instantly. The shots came from a building held by the sappers of the 9th Field Company. A fellow officer remarked that Major Wallis was quietly spoken and was not always comprehensible; and so when he was challenged by a sentry and no answer was heard he was fired upon. A comrade of the unfortunate sentry who opened fire said: "It was at a time when the next shape in a doorway could be the enemy, such was the proximity of the fighting; response time was very short, and a German grenade had a short fuse." Command of the 2nd Battalion passed to Major Tatham-Warter.


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