Wallis, Thomas James

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Thomas James Wallis
Died 31 March 1956
Wallis portrait.jpg
Place of death Toronto, Ontario
Place of burial Barrie, Ontario
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Years of service 1927 - 1943

Major Thomas James Wallis was a Canadian soldier and a member of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.


In 1927, Thomas James Wallis (Regimental Number 25658) was taken on strength of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS) as a Signalman, and immediately promoted Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO 2). In 1943, he retired from the RCCS as a major.

The following excerpts taken from an article written in 1943 by Signalman D.G. Marsh provide an interesting glimpse of his military accomplishments.

"Major T. J. Wallis joined the Empire when most of us were less than a twinkle in our father's eyes. He is the only soldier in Canada who began to serve on ships, forsook them for horses, and is active in the period of mechanized warfare. In 1899, as a youth, he served in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, in the Boer War, on the destroyer Quail, the cruiser Retribution, and the flagship Ariadne. In 1904 he joined the Royal Horse Artillery, and - coming to Canada as a civilian in 1910 - he joined the Grenadier Guards of Canada. The year 1914 found him overseas with the 14th Battalion Royal Montreal Regiment, where he served five years, 240 days, including the period of the Occupation.

Subsequently he was permanently employed as RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) of the Governor General's Foot Guards and when, in 1922, paid personnel of the N.P.A.M. (Non-Permanent Active Militia) were dispensed with, he was absorbed in the Instructional Cadre of N.D.H.Q. (National Defence Headquarters), Ottawa. In 1924, as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment, he was posted to the R. C. Signals depot at Borden, as Instructor. On March 27, 1927, in one order, he was taken on R.C. Signals strength as a signalman, promoted to W02 and appointed QMS (Quarter Master Sergeant). … On April 1, 1927, he became W01 and the first RSM in the history of the Corps. Early in 1940 he received his commission, after 41 years of virtually uninterrupted service in the British ranks - a well and arduously won reward - and rose rapidly to his majority. … Perhaps the highest tribute to his brilliance on the parade ground was paid to Major Wallis in 1937 when he proceeded overseas as the RSM in charge of the Canadian contingent which attended the Coronation of King George VI.

The length of this record is remarkable, but it does not fully explain Major Wallis. He provides a link between two types of army, and at a time when military technical experts are the rule rather than the exception his presence reminds us that drill is still essential. … His loyalty to the Corps, his ability to inspire men, his military knowledge and his bearing won him the lasting admiration of all who met him, and he was a legend to the RCCS.”

Maj Wallis died in Toronto on 31 March 1956, and was buried in Barrie, Ontario. His wife Isobel, a son James, and three daughters Margaret, Gladys and Elizabeth survived him. During the Second World War, as a private in the Canadian Women's Army Corps, Elizabeth served with her father at Vimy Barracks. On 13 October, 1956 Training Building No. 1, Vimy Barracks, Kingston, Ontario was renamed the Wallis Building in his honour.

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