The Old Timer & The Whippersnapper

Lieutenant Colonel Wellington WallaceWallace&
Major William Otter Morris
Morris234th (Peel) Battalion

Born in 1854 in Tipperary, Ireland, Wellington Wallace immigrated to Canada in 1878. He was a bank manager, militiaman and veteran of the Northwest Rebellion. He fought with the Queen’s Own Rifles against Cree Chief Poundmaker at the battle of Cut Knife on 2 May 1885. The son of a North West Mounted Police Inspector, William Otter Morris was born in Fort Battleford on 24 May 1885 and named after the Canadian commander at Cut Knife, Colonel William Dillon Otter. The thirty-year old Wallace and the two day old Morris were both present in Battleford when Poundmaker and the Cree surrendered on 26 May 1885. Over thirty years later, Morris succeed Wallace as commander of the 234th Battalion.

234thIn 1893, then Captain Wallace gained notoriety for defying the “Dalton Imitators” bank robbers and aiding in their capture. According to a report praising Wallace’s pluckiness, the Dalton gang had “held revolvers at his head and threatened to blow out his brains if he did not turn over the cash. However, the captain did not take this view of the matter and refused to hold up his hands and with assistance of the staff present, the men were driven away.”

In spring 1916, Wallace was appointed to command the 234th Battalion from Toronto. Due to difficult recruitment conditions and depletion from overseas drafts, the unit managed less than three hundred volunteers. In December 1916, the sixty-two year old Wallace resigned from the 234th to take a post with No. 2 Military District. Major W. F. N. Windeyer assumed temporary command until he was replaced by Major William Otter Morris in January 1917. Morris first enlisted as a major with the 170th Battalion and received a promotion to command the 215th in September 1916 before transferring again to the 234th.

The 234th proceeded to England in April 1917 where it was absorbed into the 12th Reserves. A prewar member of the 9th Mississauga Horse, Morris reverted in rank and joined the 75th Battalion in the field. For the final month of the war, Morris temporarily assumed command from Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Harbottle, who had been wounded on 2 September 1918.

One afternoon on 30 October:

234thMorrisWhist the Officer Commanding [Morris] and the Adjutant were scanning the daily paper, which had just arrived at about 3:00 P.M., a very young captain, accompanied by another of the same rank, appeared in the doorway and asked if he might be permitted to inspect the Battalion. Being so young, and making such a request, we at once guessed that his military rank was not on a parallel with his exalted social statues. It did not take long for the O.C. to know that it was the Prince of Wales. It took a longer time for his obtuse Adjutant to find out. He still went on reading his papers, and took little notice…

Morris turned over command back to Harbottle shortly after the Armistice.

Wallace died on 20 May 1932 at the age of seventy-six. Morris died on 21 January 1960 at the age of seventy-five.

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