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Forces War Records Blog


Blogger: GemSen We tend to concentrate on our own country’s heroes, but we could all learn a lot from the Australian soldier who faced snipers and machine gun fire to save men from another country. World War II hero, Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen’s story is so respectable and heart warming, that historians are calling for the military’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross, to be posthumously awarded.
During the World War II Wau-Salamaua campaign on July 30, 1943, there was an American assault against the Japanese on Mount Tambu where more than 50 US soldiers were injured. Two medics were killed trying to help save them. Having witnessed all the bloodshed and casualties, stretcher-bearer, Leslie Allen, risked his life to try and save the US soldiers. Australian soldiers were not even supposed to be involved in the fighting which makes what Allen did next extraordinary. Facing machine gun and mortar fire, Allen started carrying out men one at a time, tirelessly, over his shoulder, through the fire. According to Amateur Historian, David Cranage, each time Allen went back to rescue someone else, soldiers would make bets on whether he would return.
"Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. Magnificent courage, unbelievable," he said. "I've never heard anything like it before in my life and I've spent many years studying military history. "Remember, he was carrying men from another country. "His heart was so big. He just hopped in. It wouldn't matter where you came from. That's the mark of the man."
Witnesses reported that Allen saved 18 American soldiers that day, despite historical records only recording 12. Allen was hailed a hero in the United States and was awarded the highest honour possible for a non-American - a Silver Star. Apparently Eleanor Roosevelt wrote him a letter of gratitude and kept in touch with him over the years. Allen named his only daughter Eleanor. So admired by the Americans, Allen was even offered Hollywood film roles – he turned them all down. What really makes this story even more heart warming is that Allen was very humble, as many war heroes are, and he never once boasted about this tremendous act. According to his son, les Allen, he rarely brought it up. "It is emotional because he didn't talk about it all that much," he said. "I found out a lot of these things that he did through other people, because the main thing is that he was my dad and he was a damn good dad." Sadly, in 1944, Allen suffered severe post-traumatic stress and lost the ability to speak for six months. He died in 1982. A canteen at Puckapunyal was named in his honour, the first time any part of an Army Base was named after a soldier who had not won a Victoria Cross. The Australian Army sent him a military medal, but it was for an act of gallantry for an earlier battle and his actions on mount Tambu were never hugely recognised. Historian David Cranage believes that: "He should have been awarded the Victoria Cross many times on that day on Mount Tambu with what he did." Mr Cranage hopes that a statue will one day be erected in Bull Allen's home town, Ballarat. "He put his life on the line." Source: ABC News Highest Military Decoration The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.  It is worn before all other orders, decorations and medals and may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The VC is usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace. Did any of your ancestors get awarded medals for their actions in war? Perhaps they did, but you just haven't found out about it yet...Why not search the Forces War Records site and let us help you start, or continue your genealogy quest...The military genealogy specialists also offer a range of official military replacement medals from World War I and World War II, including the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and the 1939-45 Star. Made to a very high standard, the medals are the perfect way to remember the war heroes in your family and are sourced from an MOD approved supplier.
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