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Lt. Arthur Hewitt Allen
British Army orth Staffordshire Regiment 1st Btn. att 72nd MGC.
Arthur Hewitt Allen was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment on the 23rd of July 1915 and joined the battalion in France. During the Battles of the Somme, he was attached to 72nd Company, Machine Gun Corps and commanded of a section of two Vickers machine guns. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 10th January 1917. He served at Arras in April 1917 and at the Battle of Messines Ridge, which opened with massive Mine explosions which rocked the German defenders. Despite early set backs, the Germans staged a vigorous defence of the ridge and the slopes. As Lieutenant Allen led his Machine Gun Company forward in support of 1st North Stafford’s, they came under heavy artillery & machine gun fire. He located and attacked an enemy machine gun that was mowing the men down. He personally killed and captured the crew, then took command of an infantry company whose Officers had all been hit, and was soon joined by the survivors of the whole Battalion. He was awarded the Military Cross which was Gazetted on the 26th of September 1917. His citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry & devotion in leading his company in an attack. He directed an attack on an enemy machine gun , which was holding up our advance, captured the gun and killed or captured the crew. Afterwards believing himself to be the only officer surviving in the attacking companies, he directed their fire on enemy machine guns and snipers, moving from shell hole to shell hole with utter disregard of his own personal danger to satisfy himself that the line was being properly maintained. Later, he was knocked down & severely bruised by a shell, but refused to leave his company and directed the carrying of rations to the front line.”
He later fought in the 3rd Battle of Ypres in the Autumn of 1917. Having suffered effects from his close encounter with the shell at Messines and also possibly being further wounded in action, he returned to ‘Blighty’ in 1918 and served for a period with the Ministry of National Service.
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