Friday, December 24, 2010

Sergeant John Allan, Arnhem Hero

(Top): Poppy cross on the grave of Sgt John Allan
[I placed this on his grave at Arnhem / Oosterbeek War Cemetery]

(Bottom): Wartime photograph of Sgt John Allan
(Courtesy of his daughter Catherine)

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Sergeant John Allan from Whitehaven, Cumberland (now Cumbria), Service No 3598635, originally served with the 5th (Territorial) Battalion The Border Regiment and was called up at the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939. This Battalion was part of the BEF to France in early 1940. In May and June of that year 5th Border was involved in the rearguard action protecting the withdrawal of the BEF to the Dunkirk beaches and ultimately evacuation.

Back in the UK the 1st Battalion of the Border Regiment became a glider-borne battalion and part of the 1st Airborne Division. John Allan was among several volunteers from the 5th Battalion to join the new glider-borne 1st Battalion. Sergeant John Allan was to lose his life during the Battle of Oosterbeek / Arnhem on 22 September 1944. John was first buried in front of the Tafelberg Hotel and was later re-interred at Oosterbeek War Cemetery (Grave Ref: 25.C.4).

In happier times before the war - on 24 December 1938 (Christmas Eve) - John Allan, son of Mr & Mrs William Allan had married Florence Smurthwaite, daughter of George Robert and Mary Jane Smurthwaite. The wedding took place at St Nicholas' Church, Whitehaven (Church of England) and they made their family home at Scotch Street, Whitehaven. John and Florence had two children - William (Billy), born in 1940, and Ann Marie, born in 1942.

The following inscription on John Allan's headstone in Oosterbeek War Cemetery mentions John Allan's immediate family:

"Our loss is heaven's gain.
Your loving wife Florence
Your Children Billy and Marie.
Forever in our hearts".

I have visited Oosterbeek War Cemetery several times and placed a poppy cross at John Allan's grave. On the one seen in the photograph I also wrote the following:

" Sgt John Allan
Border Regt
From Whitehaven, Cumbria
Always in our thoughts".

John may not have lived to see the end of the war and a return to civilian life. Nevertheless, his sacrifice will never be forgotten.



The family of John Allan (for the photograph)

Mr Raymond Devlin
(Secretary, Cumbria Parachute Regiment Association)

Mr Stuart Nicholson
(St Nicholas C of E Church & Whitehaven Parish Archivist)

Thursday, 30 December, 2010  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, John Allan's grave in Oosterbeek War Cemetery is now number 16.A.4.

The Commission webste also mentions that John Allan had been awarded the DSC (which I presume to be an American award). However, I am not sure this information is correct and will check this with the Border Regiment Museum and Archives.

Thursday, 30 December, 2010  

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