From John Fenton, 23/2/2014 – Joseph William Allen Pt.10/478 EYR – Hull Pals.
Joe was a gents hairdresser by trade – Eleanor his wife was a nurse at the old Hull Sanitorium on Hedon Road Hull – he was a keen sportsman and having trials with Hull Kingston Rovers at the out-break of war, his position being off-half or scrum-half. Going through Joe’s diary is obviously so very interesting, he names all the locations where he went either with training here in the UK, Egypt and at the front, he relates to who his regiment relieved and also who in turn relieved them, also the fact of what duties they carried out whether it be patrol, ammunition carrying, laying trench railway along with night patrol’s and raids on German trenches, he even fell in the Suez Canal during the defence of Egypt – he relates to the vessels they sailed on including for example 2,500 troops & 900 horses’, the bombardments etc along with at times the fatigue for he was in many major battles. Due to the big German push in March/April 1918 & in answer to Field Marshall Haig’s infamous order to the British troops of “backs to the wall” Joe decided to stay behind in an attempt to hold off the attacking Germans for as long as he could in the hope that his ‘pals’ could fall behind and re-group in order to halt or even slow down the big German offensive. Joe did quite well and held on long enough for his ‘pals’ to achive this – he fought well and did the Regiment proud before being shot down and killed – at the time Joe decided to stay behind he must have known he would never make it home or see his beloved Eleanor again – his action’s earned him the Belgium Croix de Guerre. Joe is my wife’s uncle and we are so very proud of him – very very proud indeed.
Hull Pals Memorial Post. PRIVATE JOSEPH WILLIAM ALLEN 10/478. Born Hull 1894, the eldest of six children, to John and Dinah Allen of 13 Williams Terrace, Woodhouse Street, Hull. Joseph was a Hairdresser before the war but was among the first to enlist for the then fledgling battalion in those hopeful days of September 1914. Before leaving for training Joseph married Eleanor Ann Thompson at Drypool Parish Church on 11th October 1914. One of the original Pals, Joseph fought in Egypt, on the Somme and at Oppy Wood seeing his comrades decimated and that proud collection of friends dwindled away to nothing bar a handful of battle-hardened soldiers. Somewhere along the line Joseph was awarded the Croix de Guerre, a medal bestowed upon foreign nationals by the Belgian Army. I wish I could find the back story, but it appears to have been lost to history. Joseph William Allen died of wounds on 12th April 1918 and I’m afraid his position must have been overrun because his body has no known grave and his name is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial. He was 24 years old.