Biography

Birth date: 10 March 1894
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Hurstville
Death date: 25 January 1959
Final rank: Major General
Service number: First World War, 1914-1918
NX2 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • 16th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • 38th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 45th Australian Infantry Battalion

Arthur Allen was born on 10 March 1894 at Hurstville, Sydney. He attended Hurstville Superior Public School before gaining work as an audit clerk with the New South Wales Government Railways. He also joined the cadets and then the 39th Battalion of the Australian Military Forces.

He was commissioned in 1913 and appointed to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 24 June 1915. He embarked for Egypt with reinforcements for the 13th Battalion in August. In March 1916 he was promoted to captain and assigned to the 45th Battalion. Allen arrived in France on 8 June 1916 and fought at Pozieres in August. He remained in the front line on the Somme into 1917 and led his men through the battle of Messines in June. His leadership amidst heavy losses earned Allen the Distinguished Service Order and a promotion to major in July. He continued to lead men in combat, at Dernancourt in April 1918 and then as a lieutenant colonel in charge of the 48th Battalion at Monument Wood.

In June 1918 Allen went to England to attend the senior officers' course at Aldershot. Less than two weeks after the war ended Allen, aged 24, was promoted to lieutenant colonel and given command of the 13th Battalion. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his service on the Western Front; his appointment with the AIF ended on 10 November 1919.

He became an accountant after the war and in December 1921 married Agnes Blair. Allen remained active in the militia and his accounting career continued parallel to his military career. In 1933 he became a full colonel in charge of the 14th Brigade. Five years later, in 1938, he became a brigadier and in October 1939 was given command of the 16th Brigade in the AIFï's 6th Division. His experience of battle informed his leadership and his rotund stature earned him the nickname 'Tubby'.

By 1940 Allen was in the Middle East and his brigade fought at Bardia and Tobruk. In March he left North Africa for the ill-fated Greek campaign, for which he was awarded the Greek Military Cross. His next campaign, in command of the 7th Division against the Vichy French in Syria, was more successful and he was promoted to general in August 1941. He returned to Australia in March 1942 and in August took charge of operations against the Japanese advance on Port Moresby. Again successful, Allen nevertheless came under what many consider unfair criticism from American General Douglas MacArthur and Australian General Thomas Blamey for moving too slowly in pursuit of the Japanese across the Owen Stanley ranges. He was relieved of his command on 29 October. Lesser appointments followed but in October 1944 Blamey recommended Allen be appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

After the war Allen became a senior partner in a Sydney accountancy firm. He died in January 1959 and was given a military funeral before being cremated. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Date of embarkation: 09 August 1915
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney
  • Recommended for: Order of the Bath
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Greek Military Cross, Class A
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Brevet Major
  • Unit: 38th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Brevet Major
  • Unit: 38th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Brevet Major
  • Unit: 38th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Greek War Cross, First Class
  • Unit: 16th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: 45th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

Private Record

Film

Timeline

Date of birth 1894-03-10 Hurstville, NSW.
Date commissioned 1913
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1915-06-24 Appointed to the Australian Imperial Force as a second lieutenant.
Date of embarkation 1915-08-09 Embarked for Eygpt with reinforcements for the 13th Battalion.
Other units 1915-10-23 - 1916-03-02 13th Battalion.
Date promoted 1916-02-01 Appointed lieutenant.
Date promoted 1916-03-02 - 1917-09-25 Appointed capatain and assigned to the 45th Battalion.
Other 1916-06-08 Arrived in France.
Other 1916-08 Fought at Pozieres.
Other 1917-06 Led his men through the battle of Messines.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-06-14
Date promoted 1917-07 Appointed major.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-07-06
Date of honour or award 1917-08-25 Distinguished Service Order, for leadership amidst heavy loses at the battle of Messines.
Other units 1917-09-25 - 1918-01-10 Temporary Commanding Officer of 45th Battalion.
Other units 1918-01-10 - 1918-01-25 Temporary Commanding Officer of 48th Battalion.
Other units 1918-01-25 - 1918-02-27 45th Battalion.
Other units 1918-02-27 - 1918-04-19 Temporary Commanding Officer of 45th Battalion.
Date of honour or award 1918-04-18 Mention in Despatches.
Date promoted 1918-04-19 Appointed temporary lieutenant colonel.
Other units 1918-04-19 - 1918-06-29 Temporary Commanding Officer of 48th Battalion.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-05-08
Other units 1918-06-29 - 1918-10-04 Senior Officers School, Aldershot.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-17
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-27
Other units 1918-10-04 - 1918-11-20 48th Battalion.
Date promoted 1918-11-20 Appointed lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 13th Battalion.
Date of honour or award 1919-01-07 French Croix de Guerre, for his service on the Western Front.
Date of discharge 1919-11-10 Appointment with the Australian Imperial Force ended, however Allen remained active in the militia.
Date promoted 1933 Became full colonel in charge of the 14th Brigade.
Date promoted 1938 Appointed brigadier.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1939-10-13 Enlisted in the 2nd AIF.
Date promoted 1939-10-13 Given command of the 16th Brigade, 6th Division, AIF.
Other 1940 Active service in the Middle East.
Date of honour or award 1941-04-01 Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Date of honour or award 1941-07-08 Companion of the Order of the Bath
Date promoted 1941-08 Promoted to general.
Date of honour or award 1941-12-30 Mention in Despatches.
Date returned to Australia 1942-03
Other 1942-08 Active service in Port Morseby, New Guinea.
Other 1942-10-29 Relieved of his command.
Date of honour or award 1944-11-23 Greek War Cross - First Class.
Date of discharge 1945-04-03
Date of death 1959-01-25