Robert ALLEN

ALLEN, Robert

Service Number: 5794
Enlisted: 19 April 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 28th Infantry Battalion
Born: Beverley, Western Australia, January 1886
Home Town: East Fremantle, East Fremantle, Western Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Wounds, 5th Australian Field Ambulance, Pozieres, France, 27 March 1917
Cemetery: Pozières British Cemetery
Plot II, Row E, Grave 11
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Beverley District Honour Roll WW1, Beverley St Mary's Anglican Church Lynchgate, Fremantle Fallen Sailors & Soldiers Memorial
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World War 1 Service

19 Apr 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 5794, 28th Infantry Battalion
13 Oct 1916: Involvement Private, 5794, 28th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '16' embarkation_place: Fremantle embarkation_ship: HMAT Suffolk embarkation_ship_number: A23 public_note: ''
13 Oct 1916: Embarked Private, 5794, 28th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Suffolk, Fremantle

Help us honour Robert Allen's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

Son of James and Sarah ALLEN
Of 'Khyber' Diver Street, Claremont WA
Husband of Florence Beatrice ALLEN
Of 107 Duke Street, East Fremantle, WA


The late Private Allen was one of the heroic spirits who had come forward in response to the Empire's call. He came from a patriotic family, in which six sons had offered, though four had been accepted. He had been the third of the brothers to enlist. He spent about three months in France, the most of the time in training, so could have been but a short time in the actual firing line when wounded. 


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Francois Somme

Private 5794 Robert Allen
28th Australian Infantry Battalion, 7th Brigade,
2nd Australian Division of the Australian Imperial Force
On this day of remembrance, because every day is a day of remembrance, the sun of an emerging spring spreads its rays across the fields of the Somme which are so calm today, sometimes making us forget what horrors and suffering took place here but through the poppies of Amiens, of Villers-Bretonneux, of Pozieres, through light breezes, the whispers are heard, the ghostly voices of young men who, shoulder to shoulder, coming from the other side of the world, from Australia and New Zealand, united in a strong bond of camaraderie, wrote the legend of the ANZAC spirit, a spirit of bravery, gallantry, good humor and effort in the face of hard trials and adversity which guided these young men towards the killing fields of the Somme but who, under rains of bullets and blood, remained strong, determined and together in brotherhood, fought with the most exceptional courage to defend freedom. They were almost children who, at the call of duty, gathered and, rifles in hand, marched on the paths, the roads and the mud quagmires of the Somme where they became men, veterans of a war which caused the world to sink into madness.Among them, thousands did not have the chance to return home, to see their loved ones again and found in the north of France, in the shadow of their white tombs, their last resting places which bear with respect and emotion the names of these heroes over whom I am proud to watch with respect with all the love of the French people who will forever be grateful for the courage and sacrifices of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who today, more than men, have become for eternity our sons, our heroes whose history and memory will live forever in our hearts and in the light of the flame of remembrance that I will always carry with honor and gratitude for them and for their families to whom we owe so much and with whom we are united today in the most beautiful bond of friendship and respect.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and with the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who, for all of us, gave his life to give us the chance to live in a more peaceful world.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 5794 Robert Allen who fought in the 28th Australian Infantry Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division of the Australian Imperial Force, and who died of his wounds 107 years ago, on March 27, 1917 at the age of 30 on the Somme front.

Robert Allen was born in 1886 in Beverley, Western Australia, and was the son of James Allen and Sarah Allen (née Moore, 1850-1890),of Khyber Diver Street, Claremont,Western Australia. He had three sisters, Sarah Elizabeth Allen (1872-1953), Mary Charlotte Allen (1877-1943), Grace Jane Allen (1888-1977), and nine brothers, George James Allen (1874-1954), William Hudson Allen (1875-1955), Henry Allen (1879-1951), James Allen (1881-1956) ,John Thatcher Allen (1883-1960),Thomas Thatcher Heathcote Allen (1883-1906),Frank Allen (1885-1955),Owen Moore Allen (1888-1916) and Ernest Allen (1890-1917).Robert grew up in a very happy and very patriotic family then, after his studies, worked as a labourer then, shortly before he left for the war in 1916, married Florence Beatrice Allen (née Webb,1892-1973) and lived briefly at 107 Duke Street, East Fremantle, Western Australia.

Deeply patriotic and in love with his country, Robert answered the call of duty and enlisted on April 19, 1916, shortly after his marriage to Florence, whom he very tenderly called "Florrie", in Perth, Western Australia, in the 28th Australian Infantry Battalion, 16th Reinforcement, which was raised on April 16, 1915 at Blackboy Hill Camp, near Perth and was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Collett then, after a training period of just under six months during which Robert learned how to handle a rifle and the rudiments of bayonet and hand-to-hand combat, he embarked with his unit from Fremantle, on board HMAT A23 Suffolk on October 13, 1916 and sailed for England where he arrived on December 2 at Plymouth then, after a further brief period of additional training in the 7th Training Battalion, proceeded overseas for France from Folkestone, on board Princess Clementine on December 21.

After a very brief one-day trip on the Channel, Robert arrived in France on December 22, 1916 and was disembarked at Etaples where he joined the 2nd Australian Divisional Base depot and had to follow a new short period of training then proceeded to join his unit on January 17, 1917 and taken on strength in the 28th Battalion the next day at Buire, in the Somme, where once again, with the men of his unit, he followed another period of extensive training with in the distance, the sound of guns breathing fire and death which severely bruised the battalion in August 1916 during the terrible battle of Pozieres but despite this, Robert only found smiling comrades whose morale was very strong then on January 30, they marched for Fricourt Camp, a few kilometers from the front line, and remained on rest until February 1st.

On February 2, 1917, Robert and the men of the 28th Battalion left Fricourt and relieved the Cameron Highlanders on the trench line called "Scotland Trench", near Warlencourt which was under active fire from German artillery. It was here, in those first moments in the trenches that Robert first saw the brutality and horrors of war and had to face the deaths of several of his comrades who were torn to pieces by shells and shrapnel but he also found, in the trenches, true camaraderie, a strength which gave him the courage to stand and keep his head held high. A few days later, on February 6, the 28th Battalion was relieved by the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion and marched to Acid Drop Camp then returned to the trenches on February 16.

The battalion's war diary for that day says "Heavy rain, trench conditions very bad". Indeed, during this period, the Somme experienced a terrible winter and the men suffered cruelly from the cold, from frequent rains which flooded the trenches with frozen water and many soldiers suffered from trench foot. On February 17, the 28th Battalion was placed in support line, were relieved on February 19 by the 19th Australian Infantry Battalion and moved to Shelter Wood Camp, near Contalmaison. Shortly afterwards, on February 25, Robert fell ill and was admitted to the 6th Australian Field Ambulance, 1st Australian Corps, suffering from mumps.

After several days of rest which allowed him to recover, Robert returned to his unit on March 15, 1917 at Acid Drop Camp but the faces of his comrades were marked by the suffering of the furious fighting at Warlencourt which took place between the 1st and the 5th March during repeated attacks in an attempt to take and hold a German trench line called the "Malt Trench". Despite the courage of the waves of Australian attacks, the Diggers suffered very heavy losses and many men were mowed down by enemy machine guns in the barbed wire that the artillery was unable to break.

This was a failure and the 28th Battalion withdrew to wait for reinforcements to be sent. On March 16, one day after his return to his unit, Robert and the men of the 28th Battalion were inspected by Brigadier General Evan Alexander Wisdom, Commander of the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion, former commander of the Karrakatta Training Camp in 1914 and served with bravery during the Gallipoli campaign for which he was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) and then showed again his courage during the battles of Pozieres and Flers in 1916.

After that, Robert followed a new period of training then marched for Bapaume on March 20, Beugnatre on March 21, Vaulx-Vraucourt (Pas-De-Calais) on March 25 then on October 26, alongside the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion, were involved in an attack to take the village of Lagnicourt which was in German hands.

Lagnicourt was the scene of fierce fighting in March and April 1917. When the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in March and the British and dominion forces advanced rapidly in their wake but as they neared the Hindenburg Line they were confronted by well-prepared rearguard forces, which were only removed after difficult fights. One such action took place at Lagnicourt between 26 and 27 March. Closing with the Hindenburg Line, the British lost no time in launching a major offensive around Arras. This left their line weak in several places, including Lagnicourt. Aware of this weakness, the Germans launched a counter-stroke in the Lagnicourt area at dawn on 15 April, utilising 23 battalions. Their aim was not to permanently recapture the territory, but merely to hold it for a day and capture or destroy all the equipment and supplies they found there. They rapidly occupied Lagnicourt and captured several batteries of the 1st Australian Division's artillery. A vigourous counter-attack by four Australian battalions just after 7 am recaptured the village and most of the guns, and forced a premature German withdrawal.

On March 26, 1917 at 2:00 p.m., the men of the 28th Battalion charged and entered the village of Lagnicourt where furious bayonet and hand-to-hand combat took place. Shortly after, the Germans fled the village but launched two counterattacks which were vigorously repulsed but at the cost of heavy losses for the 26th and 28th Battalion and it was unfortunately during this day that Robert was seriously injured then admitted the next day to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance in Pozieres,in the Somme, where despite the greatest care he died. He was 30 years old.

Today, Robert Allen (second from the left in the photo), rests in peace alongside his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Pozieres British Cemetery, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription: " For God, King and country."

Of the ten boys in the Allen family, six of them, including Robert, offered their service during the war but two were rejected and four fought on the battlefields.

Robert's first brother to fight on the battlefields of the Great War was Private number 3026 Ernest Allen (1st from left in photo) who served in the 48th Australian Infantry Battalion. Unfortunately, he was killed in action on October 12, 1917 at the age of 27 near Ypres and today rests in peace at Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood. His grave bears the following inscription: "In memory of the dearly loved husband of Rosetta Allen."

Robert's second brother who fought in the trenches was Private number 854 William Hudson Allen (third from the left in the photo) who served courageously in the 44th Australian Infantry Battalion. William survived the war and returned to Australia on July 3, 1917 and died peacefully on May 12, 1955 at the age of 79 in Perth, Western Australia. Today he rests in peace at Karrakatta Cemetery And Crematorium, Western Australia.

Robert's third and last brother to fight on the killing fields of the Great War was Private number 4744 Owen Moore Allen (fourth from left in photo) who served bravely in the 16th Australian Infantry Battalion. Sadly, Owen was killed in action on August 31, 1916 at Pozieres at the age of 28 and his body was never found but today his name is remembered with gratitude and respect on the walls of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, Somme.

Robert, Ernest, William, Owen, young and brave you were, together you did what was right and with determination, with faith and courage you fought, not to bring death but to bring peace to all those you loved, for your family and your country, for the beautiful and great Australia but beyond, for future generations who on this day see what was your courage and your sacrifices on the battlefields. We owe you so much for everything you did and gave for us who honor your memory, the memory of men, sons and brothers who, without hesitation and without fear, responded to the call of duty and marched towards the blood-red fields of war, towards their destiny, towards the great adventure and the glory of which they heard so much and with them, it was all of Australia which fought with ardor, with dedication, with loyalty. But in the Somme, in the barbed wire, in the shell holes dotting the lunar landscapes once green and peaceful, these young men found nothing other than madness, despair and cruelty of a war which shattered so many lives and families which, in Sydney, in Perth, in Launceston, in Brisbane, in Adelaide, received the terrible telegrams opened by trembling hands and which, in a few words, announced to so many mothers, wives and sisters that their husbands, their brothers, their beloved boys were killed doing their duty with courage, fighting like lions far from home, in the inglorious slaughterhouses of the Somme. In the mud, at the feet of the dead bodies of their friends, in terrible conditions, living every second surrounded by death, the Diggers fought without respites and were engaged in the deadliest battles of the great war like at Pozieres where 23,000 of them fell then at Villers-Bretonneux before liberating Amiens where I live now. Under the bullets, through the flames, spitting blood under the poisonous gas, they firmly held the front line without ever retreating despite the weight of terrible losses and, facing the machine guns, through torrents of steel, burning shrapnel and splitting the air with deadly hisses, they charged bayonets forward under their slouch hats which they wore with pride, a symbol of the courage and sacrifices of the Australian soldiers whose memory is dear to our hearts here more than a hundred years later and, as I walk through the poppies, I think of these men who sacrificed their youth and sowed the seeds of a new fragile but living hope for peace, a peace that we must preserve to honor the memory of these heroes who, shoulder to shoulder, lived through a hell never seen before unleashed by vanity and thirst for conquest but in these darkest hours of history, Australian soldiers fought to preserve our humanity, for what is good in the hearts of men. They lived as if each minute was the last, crouching in the trenches soaked with blood and mud, their hands on their steel helmets to try to protect themselves from the fury of the shells which flew around them and which, in terrible explosions, in a fraction of a second, pulverized their friends and brothers of whom nothing remained except their names on a wooden cross or on the walls of the memorials.Despite this cataclysm, this butchery which demanded so much blood, hopes and lives, war or death never had the last word because today, everything which brought death, rifles, machine guns, barbed wire, artillery have become rust and silence underground. The scars, traces of trenches and craters are still visible to remind us of the violence which haunted the battlefields of the Somme and which tell us "never again". More than a hundred years have passed, the weapons have fallen silent and today, with force, with solemnity, it is the voices of these young men that we hear saying "don't forget us, we were young, we fought for you , for Australia and for France" and today, more than ever, I am proud to watch over their graves, to preserve, to perpetuate their memory because it is to make these men live for eternity, because they deserve it, for everything they sacrificed and here, in the Somme, we will never forget Australia, we will never forget our Diggers, our sons, our heroes, forever. At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember them.