Final honour for brave Sheffield medical officer

Dignitaries at the unveiling of a plaque in Major Allen's memory.
Dignitaries at the unveiling of a plaque in Major Allen's memory.
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One of the most decorated medical officers of World War One has been honoured in his home city of Sheffield.

Major William Allen, who was born on Botanical Road, off Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, was awarded the Victoria Cross, Military Cross and other honours for displaying courage and perseverance under testing conditions.

Major William Barnsley Allen

Major William Barnsley Allen

Now his memory will live on in a different way after students at Sheffield University – where Major Allen studied medicine before going to war – voted for one of their accommodation blocks to be named after him to mark 100 years since the start of the conflict.

Cadets stood to attention while Major Allen’s grandson Nigel Allen unveiled a plaque at the halls of residence in Shalesmoor.

Mr Allen said: “I feel honoured students have chosen to name Allen Court after my grandfather and I was delighted to come to Sheffield to unveil a plaque in his memory.”

On one of the occasions which led to Major Allen’s honours, he defied heavy shelling to dress the wounds of soldiers who had come under fire while unloading gun detachments.

He was hit four times during the first hour, fracturing two of his ribs, but continued duties until the last man was dressed and safely removed.

He had joined the Royal Army Medical Corps a few days after Britain declared war on Germany in 1914.

He progressed through the ranks and became one of the most decorated British Army medical officers of the war.

He retired from the Army in 1923 to become a GP and died 10 years later, aged 41, from sleepy sickness.

He is buried in Bracklesham, West Sussex.

Miles Stevenson, university director of alumni and donor relations, said: “ The naming idea came from our students and we are particularly pleased Major Allen’s grandson could unveil a plaque.

“We feel it is important to remember doctors like Major Allen who served on the Western Front.”