Corporal John Allen


John Allen was born on 25 March 1893 at 36 Mansfield Street, Belfast, the third of ten children of carter John Allen and his wife Isabella (née Elwood). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 24 Baywood Street, Belfast, with his parents and his eight surviving siblings, and working as a labourer. They later moved to 28 Lendrick Street.

Allen enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron on 23 November 1914 (No. UD/182). On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with his squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

On 13 March 1916 he was appointed acting lance corporal, later rising to the rank of corporal.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. In August-September 1917 the Regiment was disbanded and its men, following training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Allen, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Allen was issued regimental number 41149.

On 23 November 1917 he was wounded in the right forearm in the fighting for the village of Moeuvres during the Battle of Cambrai. According to the Battalion diary:

[22 November] The Battalion moved up at 6.30am to a position north of Bapaume and Cambrai Road arriving at 8.30am. Here the Battalion waited for an order to attack Inchi when Moeuvres was taken by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. At 11.45am the 12th Royal Irish Rifles captured village of Moeuvres. It was unable to clear trenches east of village. At 5.30pm Battalion moved up to support 12th Royal Irish Rifles in the village of Moeuvres. At 5.45pm 12th Royal Irish Rifles reported driven out of village. At 8.30pm Battalion less D Company counter attacked village of Moeuvres but was driven back to trenches immediately south of the village, where it took up a defensive position for the night.

[23 November] Battalion attacked Moeuvres at 10.30am. At 11am Battalion reported in village. At 11.45am enemy counter attacked from trenches west of village. 12.15pm counter attack driven off. At 4.30pm village evacuated by Battalion on account of supports not coming up. 5pm C and D Companies took up position on Sunken Road south of village and A and B companies went back to trenches north of Bapaume and Cambrai Road.

Casualties for 22nd and 23rd: Officers killed one; Officers wounded six; Other Ranks 82 casualties.

The Belfast Telegraph of 19 December 1917 reported that:

Mr. John Allen, 28 Lendrick Street, Belfast, has been notified that his son, Corporal John Allen, Royal Irish Fusiliers (late of the Inniskilling Dragoons), was wounded on the 23rd November. Prior to enlisting he was an apprentice plater in Messrs. Harland and Wolff's.

Allen was evacuated to the UK for treatment. On 2 October 1918 he was discharged from the army, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was awarded a pension due to his wounds, his level of disability assessed at 50 per cent in September 1919.


This page last updated 23 April 2023.