Hunt to trace family of Sheffield’s most decorated First World War hero

Major William Barnsley Allen
Major William Barnsley Allen
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A hunt is underway to trace family of one of Sheffield’s most decorated First World War heroes ahead of him being honoured in the city.

Sheffield will remember Major William Barnsley Allen, who was a British Army medical officer decorated for gallantry four times during the First World War, by unveiling a plaque in his honour.

The plaque will be unveiled at the Cenotaph war memorial in Sheffield city centre next month.

Major 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 Allen, who also studied for a degree in medicine at the University of Sheffield, was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1916 – the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Ahead of the honour, Sheffield Council has traced several members of Major Allen’s family but wants to contact more relatives who once lived in the Bracklesham Bay area near Chichester and may also have links to Yorkshire.

The ceremony is the second of three memorial services to commemorate the Sheffield-born recipients of the Victoria Cross awarded during the First World War – each will be installed to mark the 100th anniversary since they were awarded.

Last year, there was a ceremony to lay a plaque in honour of Sgt Maj John Raynes and next year, Private Arnold Loosemore will be honoured.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Denise Fox, said: “Major William Allen was a much decorated war hero and Sheffield is rightly very proud of him.

“In this period of commemoration for those associated with the First World War, it will be an absolute privilege to stand alongside his family to make a permanent memorial to his valour and honour in the city centre.”

Representatives from the Army Medical Services Reserves, Army Cadets, Sheffield University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) and Royal British Legion will be present to pay their respects to Major Allen.

The Lord Mayor, Lord Lieutenant, The High Sheriff John Holt, Master Cutler Craig McKay and a representative from the Royal Military College will be laying wreaths at the Cenotaph.

The plaque will be unvieled on Saturday, September 3, at 1pm. Members of the public are invited to the ceremony.