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Reuben Walter Allen

Reuben Walter Allen


Serial No:
Serial No. 4652

18th Battalion


Reuben Walter Allen - Information

Reuben Walter Allen, known as Wack, grew up at Ingleburn House, Ingleburn with his siblings and parents, Robert and Alice. The Allens originally came from Ryde, where Wack was born in 1894. When he was older, Wack worked as a baker’s assistant making deliveries throughout the Campbelltown area. In 1915, the Allens farewelled Wack'€™s younger brother, George, as he left for war. Not knowing what was in store, Wack followed suit. On the 29th of January 1916, he and his best mate, Tom Dures, enlisted in the AIF in Casula. They were both accepted and made Privates with the 12th Reinforcements, 18th Battalion. They then departed Sydney Harbour on the 13th of April 1916 onboard the HMAT Ceramic.

Wack and Tom disembarked in England for further training. In early September, they proceeded to the Western Front in France, where they joined the 18th Battalion at the end of the month. At the time, heavy rainfall was turning the frontlines into rivers of mud. Unfortunately, this resulted in soldiers being consistently stuck and immersed in cold muddy water. Consequently, Wack developed trench foot reporting sick on the 8th of November. Only to be followed by Tom. A Couple of weeks later, they were evacuated to England for treatment. On the 30th of November, Wack was admitted to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford. It took some time to recover from the frostbite. He perhaps took this opportunity to visit his brother, George, whose leg had been amputated following a gun shot wound. He was then sent back to France in early April 1917, reuniting with his unit. As he returned, the 18th Battalion were participating in action at Warlencourt chasing the Germans as they withdrew to a new defence system, before fighting in the Second Battle of Bullecourt on the 3rd of May. Bullecourt was located within the Hindenburg Line; a formidable German defence line protected by concrete blockhouses, barbed wire and enfilading machine gun fire. The Allies captured it, fighting through many bloody counter assaults. The 18th Battalion were then shifted for operations in Belgium, fighting the Germans during the Third battle of Ypres at Menin Road and Poelcappelle. Here, Wack reunited with Tom fresh from Blighty. The 18th endured another winter, and were then hammered by the German March Offensive in 1918. German forces had pressed their way through the lines. This resulted in much fierce fighting to halt the German onslaught. During these attacks, Wack was proving to be a very effective soldier, well equipped with his lewis gun. On the 20th of May 1918, during the battles of Hamel and Vaire Woods, he was appointed Lance Corporal. The 18th Battalion then participated in the Battle of Amiens on the 8th of August, sadly here, Tom was killed in action. At the time, Wack was out of the frontlines on other duties. The next day, during attacks, he was appointed Corporal and later informed of his friend’s death. The Battle of Amiens turned the tide for the Allies, leading to a myriad of successes on the Western Front. While heading towards Montbrehain, Wack was wounded in action on the 3rd of October, with a gun shot wound to his left arm. He was rushed to hospital, and evacuated to England to Exeter War Hospital on the 6th. He was still in hospital when the war ended on the 11th of November 1918. Due to his injury, he was invalided back to Australia on the 21st of December 1918 for a medical discharge.

Wack soon returned home to his grateful family. In 1924, he married Thyra McKenzie in Liverpool. Wack and Thyra eventually resided at 98 Ingleburn Rd, Ingleburn and added to their family. Wack became a member of the Ingleburn RSL and was later President of the Sub-Branch. He passed away on the 9th of May 1982 and was buried at St Mary the Virgin Church in Denham Court. Befittingly, his name was placed on a memorial at the RSL Cemetery in Ingleburn.