Sheffield remembers World War One hero who received the highest military honour
Sheffield remembered one of its bravest sons, whose four acts of heroism during World War One saved hundreds of lives on the battlefield.
The city laid on a special ceremony to officially unveil a commemorative paving stone in recognition of the Victoria Cross being awarded to Major William Barnsley Allen, 100 years ago.
In the pouring rain, members of the armed forces, past and present attended the ceremony alongside the Lord Mayor Denise Fox.
Major Allen’s grandson Tim Faulkner, 73, of north-west London said he was ‘overawed’ by the people of Sheffield turning out to recognise his Victoria Cross winning grandfather despite the elements.
“I was stood thinking to myself, this is’s true Yorkshire spirit,” he said.
“I was taken aback, I couldn’t believe the amount of people that turned out. I thought it would just be the family and a few people.
“The whole thing was fantastic, the members of the armed forces and the great people of Sheffield coming out and standing in the awful weather - it made me a bit emotional just to see it all.
“The overall effort made by the council to celebrate my grandfather, it left me gob smacked.”
William was born in Sheffield on June 8, 1892 at Botanical Road in Ecclesall, the son of a commercial traveller.
After graduating from Sheffield University, William joined the Royal Hospital as an assistant house physician but, within weeks, he had enlisted with the Third West Riding Field Ambulance in 1914.
Four days after the outbreak of war. He was soon in France with the Royal Army Medical Corps.
On September 3, 1916, near Mesnil, France, when gun detachments were unloading high explosive ammunition, the enemy suddenly began to shell their position. The first shell killed many. William ran across under heavy shell fire and started attending to the wounded. He was hit four times by pieces of shell, but went on with his work until the last man had been attended to.
He then went to tend a wounded officer and only then reported his own injuries. For this action, he was awarded the VC. In September 1916 Allen, by then promoted to Major, was awarded the Military Cross for similar acts of heroism. He died in 1933.