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John Henry Allen

Local History

Page updated - 17 March 2009

Roll of Honour - Gt. Cornard


Rifleman John Henry Allen


 645  3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade. 


John Allen, known as Jack was born in Sudbury around 1887 and was the son of William E and Sarah Jane Allen.  In 1891 the family were living in Back Row, School Street, Sudbury and his father was employed as a mat maker.  Both Jack’s parents and 3 of his older siblings were born in Kings Lynn, it is very likely that the family like a lot of others moved to Suffolk when William Armes moved his matting factory from Kings Lynn to Sudbury. 


The family of 9 later moved to Cats Lane, Great Cornard and Jack’s older sisters Elvinah and May were employed as silk workers and his brother Thomas as a loom boy.  Before Jack enlisted he was working in London and ‘held a good position with Messrs. Lewis, drapers of Oxford Street, London’. 


Jack is recorded as having first served in a ‘theatre of war’ in France on 10th September 1914.  This indicates that he was already serving as a regular or was a reservist before the war.  Reservists were officers and men who had previously served.  At the outbreak of war many of them rejoined their units.  In August 1914 the 3rd Battalion was stationed in Cork.  It was part of the 6th Division and on 10th September it landed at St. Nazaire and proceeded to the Western Front where it helped to reinforce the hard pressed British Expeditionary Force at the Battle of the Aisne (12th – 15th September) before the whole army was moved north to Flanders.


Jack was killed in action aged 27 on 6th November 1914.  Jack’s Mother received a letter from Lieutenant T O Jameson, Jack’s Platoon commander.  He wrote ‘I can say no more but that in him I have lost one of, if not the best man in my platoon and only three days previous to his death his name had been sent in for good service to his company.’  Second Lieutenant Jameson also wrote that although unable to state where Jack was buried he had personally seen to his burial.  In the beginning recordings of burial places were sometimes lost and sadly many graves were destroyed during later battles.  Fabian Ware (later Sir), a Commander of the British Red Cross realised the need to establish a system to ensure final resting places of casualties would not be lost and in May 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission was established.


There is no known grave and Jack is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial, near Yprés, Belgium.  Jack was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and Victory Medal.


Jack is also remembered on the Friars Street Chapel Memorial, now situated in the United Reformed Church, School Street, Sudbury.


©Shirley Smith - Sudbury & District Royal British Legion - November 2008