1st/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
Killed in action in The Battle of the Somme on Saturday 1st July 1916 aged 24.
His age is listed in military records as 24, however he enlisted in 1914 at the age of 16, which would have made his real age when he died 18.
The 1st/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters was mobilised in Derby in August 1914 as part of Notts. & Derby Brigade in the North Midland Division. They moved on mobilisation to Harpenden and went on in November 1914 to Braintree.
They landed in France on Thursday 25th February 1915.
On Saturday 1st July 1916, the weather was hot with an early morning mist when at 7:30am supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a disastrous failure. The 1st/5th Battalion went over the top at Gommecourt and was cut to ribbons. They suffered particularly badly. 184 men and 11 Officers were killed. The net gain that day was effectively zero.
"Our Battalion got cut up very badly. As soon as we got on top of the parapet they began to drop like rabbits; we were caught by crossfire from machine guns. There would be ten times as many wounded as killed. I had to bandage myself up as best I could and then creep back to the dressing station. We crept past many who were dead or dying. When we got to the dressing station we were taken away by the red cross ambulance. I can tell you it was awful, and I never witnessed anything like it before."
Private A Reynolds
Allan, like so many others on that terrible day, has no known grave and is commemorated on The Thiepval Memorial France which is built right across the front lines of 1st July 1916, a day when the British Army suffered nearly 20,000 men killed and a further 40,000 wounded.
He is also commemorated on the St Peter's Church Memorial Belper.
Born and enlisted in Belper Allan was the son of Thomas, a coal merchant, and Harriet Bembridge, of 3, Nottingham Road, Belper.
Allan was Baptised at St Peter's Church Belper on Wednesday 21st September 1898.
One of three brothers killed, John who was killed on the same day, and Arthur who was killed in October 1916. A fourth brother Percy survived the war, although he did spend some months in hospital with back injuries due to falling when an upper floor collapsed in a building in which he was sheltering.
Allan had served in France from 6th March 1916 and was 5 feet 5 inches tall.
Prior to enlisting was employed as a labourer at the Park Foundry.
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