Private John Allen


John Allen (or Allan) was born on 7 November 1898 at Greenmount Terrace, Ballymena, the first of two children of grocer (later commercial traveller) Thomas James Giffen Allen and his wife Meta (née Wallace). Soon after this the family moved to Belfast, living at 132 University Street. John's father died there when he was just three years old, his mother re-marrying eight years later. By the time of the 1911 Census John was living at 122 Eglantine Avenue with his mother, sister and step-father.

Allen enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 23 August 1915 (No.1719). He gave his occupation as shop assistant and his age as 19. The fact that his true age was just 16 was soon discovered and on 24 September 1915 he was discharged (paragraph 392(vi)(a) King's Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'good'.

Following his discharge Allen commenced an education as a medical student (his uncle Samuel Wallace was a medical practitioner).

On 7 October 1918 Allen enlisted in the Royal Air Force (No.305059). He was posted to the Motor Transport Section where he trained as a motor cyclist. On 11 April 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to the RAF's G Reserve.