News

Anzac hero writes letter describing war hell on earth

 One of Private Harry Allen’s letters home from the front line.
One of Private Harry Allen’s letters home from the front line. Contributed

A CENTURY ago today, the decision to invade the peninsula with ground troops, including the Anzac forces, was made after another failed allied attempt in the Dardanelles.

One of these local Anzac heroes was Private Harry Allen from Maryborough.

Pvt Allen was born in June, 1896 and was orphaned about the age of six where he went into the care of his grandfather.

Before enlisting to fight in the First World War, Pvt Allen worked at a Maryborough stove foundry, Daniels & Co. with the Daniel family.

At the age of 19 years, 2 months, Pvt Allen enlisted at Maryborough on August 16, 1915, and embarked from Brisbane per HMAT "Seang Bee" on October 21, 1915 for active service in Europe.

During his active service Pvt Allen was raised to Acting Corporal then Acting Sergeant at the pay rate of a Corporal and discharged as a Private.

Pvt Allen served in the front lines in the Somme and Pozieres where, according to Harry, our troops captured two lines of Germans.

"By June the Bally Germans knew the Australians by then," he wrote in a letter to his work colleague and close friend, James Daniel Jnr while recovering from wounds at a convalescent hospital at Woodcote Park, England in 1916.

MORE OF OUR ANZAC STORIES

In his letter, Pvt Allen described how he got his war wounds.

"Big guns Jim," Pvt Allen said. "It was a battle where I got wounded. It was in the Somme. Where all the heaviest fighting is taking place.

"We were in the front line till the Saturday night. And early on Sunday morning about one in the morning - the whole lot of us went over the top of the parapet in a bayonet charge.

"The sky was as red as a fire with all the guns going. You could barely hear yourself speaking for the guns and the shells bursting and whizzing over our heads.

"It was hell on earth."

He went on to describe the horrific moment the Germans turned their guns on the charge.

"We lost a terrible lot of men. The whole 3rd Brigade lost terrible heavy," he described. "I got wounded about dinner time on Tuesday."

Following his recovery in 1916 in England, Pvt Allen was again posted to the front line where he was again wounded.

He was gassed three times, suffered shell shock and eventually returned to Australia disembarking at Sydney about December 19, 1918 where he was sent home to Maryborough.

Before returning home, he had at least one more stint in a hospital in England.

He returned home a very sick man, and other than times in hospital, was nursed for the remainder of his life by his adopted (then widowed) mother Isabella Daniel whose husband Smith Daniel passed away in 1915.

It appears that Harry died on February 3, 1920, less than 14 months after returning home. He was buried at the Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane. He brought home with him a German leather flying helmet.

Harry was awarded the 1914/15 Star; British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His adopted family does not know where his medals are today.

In an email to the Chronicle, an adopted family member of Pvt Allen, Adrian Daniel, expressed his respect and love of his adopted uncle.

"Without service personnel like Harry and those that followed we would not be enjoying the freedom and lifestyle we currently do," Mr Daniel said. "Our generation and each one that follows must never forget the debt we owe to our service personnel.

"Anzac Day to me does not glorify war, but a timely reminder of the horrors and suffering war brings and the sacrifices made by those who defend and train to defend our freedom. I have always felt for the Vietnam veterans who to me got a raw deal on their return home and subsequently.

"I feel that all service personnel - it doesn't matter which battle they participated in - they put their lives on the line and if they survived their health in all respects would no doubt be worse for wear."

Topics:  100 years, anzac, anzac-centenary, centenary of anzac, digger, editors picks, hero, letter, maryborough, war




Reality TV show "turned our special day into a joke"

UNHAPPY: Maryborough couple Emma and Steven Dilliway who star on Australia's Cheapest Wedding and are not happy with the outcome.

Reality television helped turn this wedding into an internet joke

Child pregnant after abduction

CARNAL KNOWLEDGE: An ultrasound in June confirmed the girl was pregnant.

Man impregnates 13-year-old girl

Eight crews attend fire near Aldridge High

Bushfire near Aldridge State High School.

Right crews are working to contain a fire near Aldridge High.

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa