The Tank Museum | Recipient

W.R. Allen

Born in Dollgellau. Studied at the Royal College of Music London where he attained ARCM Singing Solo in 1913. In 1914 he won an Open Scholarship to further study Singing and the Organ, but in 1915 he volunteered to join the Royal Navy Armoured Car Division as a Warrant Officer under Commander Locker-Lampson and in December 1915 sailed on the Umona with 500 men to reach Archangel, North Russia. The ship was ice bound in Alexandrovsk (now Murmansk) until spring, when the group moved by rail to Moscow. Czar Nicholas honoured this new mechanised outfit, as it was serving the Russian Army. W.R. Allen sang to the Czar as his baritone voice was well trained. The RNACD was sent to the Caucasus, fighting with the Russians in Armenia in August 1916, and later in NW Iran. By October Romania had entered World War 1 and the unit was sent via Baku and Rostov to Constanza on the Eastern Front. Then in March 1917 with the advent of the Russia revolution Oliver Locker-Lampson negotiated for the men to be allowed passage back via Moscow to Archangel after the UK Admiralty ordered them home, and they ultimately arrived in early 1918.

Sgt. Allen was awarded the St. Stanislaus Medal for his serivces to Russia in the Caucasus and Romania, by the Russian Government.

Sgt. Allen was posted to Basra in 1918 with the Dunsterforce under Gen. Dunsterville. They were in Baku when it was invaded and he was posted as missing/ presumed dead. Following the armistice in ovember 1918 the Turks withdrew from Baku and the remaining British personnel were repatriated to the UK early in 1919.

Sgt. Allen was awarded the Henry Blower Prize and the Tagore Gold Medal from the Royal College of Music in 1919 for his outstanding musicality and services to the country.

After the war he lectured in Music and taught Singing at the University of Aberystwyth and within the local community.

Professor William Allen was frequently to be heard on the BBC, at Glyndbourne and the Albert Hall. He conducted many choirs at Empire Day in front of the King and Queen. Also conducting and adjudicating at many Eisteddfods.

He died in Abnerystwyth in 1956 and was survived by his wife Jean and his daughters Mary and Barbara who both studied at that university.