Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

William Allen

William Allen :

William Allen : India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891'

India General Service Medal (1854) with clasp 'Samana 1891'

William was born in around August 1867 in Hulme, Lancashire. He was a member of the Wesleyan Church.

When he was 19 years and 7 months old William decided to join the Army. He enlisted on the 8th March 1888. At this time he was 5 feet 4 3/8 inches tall and weighed 123 pounds. He had grey eyes and brown hair. Life must have been hard for William, he had a sallow complexion and his face was pock-marked with scars. He had been working with horses as a groom when he enlisted.

William was accepted into the Manchester Regiment and given the service number 2153. He trained at their Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne until the 18th May 1888 when he was assigned to the 1st Battalion. He stayed in the UK with this unit until the 19th September 1890 when he was sent to join the 2nd Battalion in India.

After 8 months William went to war. The 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment was one of the units ordered to put down a rebellion in the Miranzai Valley on the North West Frontier with Afghanistan. William was one of the 300 Manchester Regiment soldiers who took part in this campaign, called the Miranzai Expedition. It lasted from the 3rd to the 25th May 1891. Samana is the name of the mountain range that rises out of the Miranzai Valley. The British fought hard to capture it.

During 1892 William spent the period between the 22nd July and the 7th October as a Lance Corporal, and then reverted back to the rank of Private. He received a pay rise on the 7th March 1894.

William had enlisted in the Army for 7 years to be followed by 5 years in the Army Reserve. His service ended on the 8th February 1896 so he was returned to the UK and became a Reservist. He had spent an extra year in India so would only have to serve 4 years in the Reserve.

Reservists could be called back into the Army if they were needed. The outbreak of the Boer War in October 1899 meant that they were, so William was 'Recalled to the Colours' on Boxing Day 1899. He joined D Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. They arrived in South Africa on the 6th April 1900.

For his service in South Africa William was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal. He qualified for the clasps: 'Wittebergen', 'Cape Colony', 'Transvaal' and 'South Africa 1901'. By the 20th August 1901 William had been 'sent home for discharge'.

William received a pension from the Army; by 1937 this was 8 shillings per week. We don't know how William spent the rest of his life. He must have struggled to make ends meet in later life as he was living in Withington Workhouse in Manchester when he died on the 11th October 1937. He was 70 years old.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council