Maxwell Grant (Darkie) ALLAN

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ALLAN, Maxwell Grant

Service Number: 5028
Enlisted: 17 December 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Port Melbourne, Victoria, 29 November 1896
Home Town: Clare, Clare and Gilbert Valleys, South Australia
Schooling: Sturt Street State School & Adelaide High School
Occupation: Grocers Assistant
Died: Killed in Action, Lagnicourt, France, 20 May 1917, aged 20 years
Cemetery: Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
No known grave
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Clare Memorial Arch WW I*, National War Memorial (South Australia), Prospect HB06 RSL Hall - Prospect District WW1 A-G*, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)*
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World War 1 Service

17 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
25 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 5028, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Shropshire, Adelaide
25 Mar 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5028, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
13 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 5028, 32nd Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
20 Oct 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5028, 32nd Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement 10th Infantry Battalion, Pozières
Date unknown: Involvement 32nd Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)

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

Biography

General

Nickname “Darkie Allan” or "Machine Gun", because of his initials.

Son of Maxwell Grant Davidson Allan and Mother Esther Allan (nee Barrett).
living at 78 Pulsford Road, Prospect, and later 5 Eliza Street, Gilberton.  

Described on enlisting as 18 years 8 months old; single; 5' 8 1/2" tall; 147 lbs;
medium complexion; grey eyes; dark hair; Church of Christ.

**Although stated on his enlistment papers that:-
    he was brought up by his guardian Aunt Annie D Allan, from infancy.
**His father stated on 14/8/1921 he had always lived with his mother Esther Allan.

Previous Service

2 years in the 75th Battalion, Senior Cadets

1 year in the Citizen Military Forces.

Service

17/12/1915    Enlisted in Adelaide, South Australia
                      A Company, 2nd Depot Battalion, Adelaide

1/1/1916        Transferred to 16th reinforcements, 10th Infantry Battalion

25/3/1916      Embarked from Port Melbourne on board  HMAT A9 Shropshire
                      as a Private with the 16th Reinforcements, 10th Battalion

10/4/1916      He was taken on strength into the 16th reinforcements, 10th Battalion at sea

9/8/1916        He proceeded overseas, ex Perham Downs, from 3rd Training Battalion

11/8/1916       Marched in to Etaples, France

13/10/1916     Taken on strength into 32nd Battalion, allotted regimental No. 5028A

26/12/1916     Detached to *Lewis Gun Course
7/1/1917         Rejoined 32nd Battalion

26/4/1917       Promoted to Lance Corporal, with 32nd Battalion

20/5/1917       Killed in action -  Eye witness accounts record that he was killed
                       by a bursting shell in the 32nd Battalions trenches.

buried in:        North of Lagnicourt, near Benulincourt  (Somme, northern France)
                       6 miles north east of Bapaume, France

His remains were later exumed and buried but his grave was subsequently lost.

*The Lewis Gun had quickly emerged as tactical game changer as it introduced a new concept on the tactical battlefield.  It was a light machine gun and could easily be carried and operated by one man, although it generally had a two man crew with the second man carrying extra ammunition in drum magazines which clipped on top of the gun and contained 37 rounds of ammunition.  These guns provided high volumes of fire, under the cover of which groups of infantry could manouevre to get within bombing range of the enemy;  this tactic is called "fire and movement"and has been a fundamental tenet of Australian Army tactics ever since.

Extracts of eye witness accounts are detailed below and in an attached image.

They had been in the trenches,  holding a line (it was about 3pm).  Fritz (the Germans) put over a barrage of shells.  Max was surrounded by other unit members (A good friend and unit member  L/Corp L Coad,  Private A H Jeffery and Sgt Ponton).   Max was killed  outright by a shell in the trench at Lagnicourt, near Benulincourt  (Somme, northern France).   He was buried the same night behind their position, about 200 yards out of Lagnicourt village, in a soldier’s cemetery on the east and a cross was made and put up on his grave.

What is of interest is that the letter concerning Max's death attached as an image was written by the acting  Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the Battalion,  Sergeant (later Lieutenant) John Ponton.  He was acting as a Platoon Commander and Max Allan was one of his soldiers - and one he held in high regard. Of particular interest is the fact that his correspondent is "Vera Deakin" - she was none other than the founder of the Red Cross service that investigated the Missing.  She was the youngest daughter of the former Australian Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin.

His name is Commemorated on the  Villers-Bretonneux Memorial

MR 26; Part I; A-B Villers-Bretonneux, Villers-Bretonneux Area, France.

His name is located at panel 119 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT.

Medals

British War medal (34163); Victory medal (33981); Memorial Plaque and Scroll (325028)

Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  Lest we forget.  August 2014

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