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Henry Peter Allanson

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant

Lifetime: 1888-1916

Allanson

Henry Peter Allanson

2nd Lieutenant Henry Peter Allanson of the 1st Battalion (attached to the 2nd Battalion) of the Suffolk Regiment died on 20 July 1916. He has no known grave but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

He was the son of Mrs Mary Frances Allanson, a widow. At the time of the 1911 Census he was single and gave his occupation as a merchant’s clerk. He was the youngest of three children having an older brother, Francis Allanson, born in 1884 and an older sister, Bertha Emily Allanson, born in 1886. All the children had been born in Hampton Wick. The family moved to Park View (6 Church Grove), Hampton Wick, in 1890. In the 1891 Census his father, Henry Allanson, who was born in Trinity Square, London was described as being aged 46 years and a Commercial Clerk.

According to the Probate Register at the time of his father’s death on 19 November 1898, the family had moved to Gables, Upper Teddington Road, Hampton Wick. His widow, now aged about 45, was left comfortably off as her husband bequeathed her an estate worth a considerable £7900 18s 10d. Accordingly, by the time of the 1901 Census the family occupied an eight room property at 6 Lansdowne Terrace (41 Lower Teddington Road), Hampton Wick, together with one domestic servant. An on-line memoir (at wikitree.com) of a convent school friend of his sister, called Pauline Herminegild Heywood (known as Gilda) (1883-1977), tells the tale of a forbidden and thwarted love affair in 1906 & 1907 between Gilda and a Chinese diplomat (Tsung Kien Tseng), studying at Cambridge, with many illicit meetings of the lovers in Hampton Wick and its environs whilst Gilda was staying with Bertha (known as Gussie) at the Allanson home.

Both Henry Peter Allanson and his older brother, Francis, attended the prestigious Catholic Public School, Ampleforth College in distant Yorkshire. Francis joined the school in 1894 and his brother followed four years later and he is listed in the school’s 1901 census entries as Peter Allanson. The obituary in the school magazine says that Henry Peter Allanson left the school in April 1904. It comments on his “quiet, unassuming manner and thoughtfulness for others” which made him “generally and deservedly popular”. The photograph printed facing the obituary gives the impression of a rather mournful young man, with eyes which suggest, perhaps, he was weary of war.

According to his obituary in the 1918 edition of the Ampleforth magazine, he joined the Artists’ Rifles shortly after the outbreak of war and was sent to France in December 1914. His Medal Roll at the National Archives gives the exact date as 29 December 1914 and states that he fought with 28 London Regiment as Private 2015. Having served at Bailleul for three months, the obituary states he trained at the Artists’ Rifles Officers Cadet School at Blendicques near St Omer receiving a commission in the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment on 25 May 1915 (Source for date : Medal Roll). It is possible to watch a short film called “The Making of an Officer” on the Imperial War Museum site which shows the training for officers at the school in early 1915. The Artists’ Rifles was originally formed from ex public school boys with experience of Officer’s Training Corps and so was deemed a suitable source of potential officers to replace those lost from the regular Army in the early months of the war.

Allanson fought at the Battle of Loos which started on 29 September 1915. In October 1915 his Division was ordered to attack the formidable Hohenzollern Redoubt, a heavily defended fort situated on elevated ground held by the German troops. During this engagement he was wounded. After a period in hospital and a spell of convalescence thereafter, he was attached to the 2nd Battalion of his Regiment.

He remained with the 2nd Battalion until he was reported “missing” during an attack on Longueval Village and Delville Wood in July 1916. The Battle of Delville Wood formed a key part of the Battle of the Somme. This is remembered primarily as the first major action undertaken in World War 1 by South African troops who were given the task of closing off a salient formed by a dense wood East of the village of Longueval. Initially successful, the action quickly descended into a bloodbath: the South African troops trapped in the woods were massacred in a series of strong German counterattacks. By the time Allanson’s Battalion managed to fight its way into the wood on 20 July to relieve the colonial forces, only a handful of the South Africans were left. The once dense wood had been reduced to a few stumps referred to thereafter as “Devil” Wood. The action is commemorated by the Monument to South African Troops at the site.

The grant of probate of his estate, worth the curiously precise figure of £565 4s 1d, was finally granted to his mother on 28 May 1918. It had been delayed because of the circumstances of his death “on or since 20 July 1916”. It gives his home address as Ryecroft (16 Seymour Road), Hampton Wick, which had become the family home sometime in 1912/13.

His older brother, Francis, who enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company outlived his brother surviving the war.

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Ampleforth and the War

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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