HIS FAMILY AFFECTIONATELY called him Will, or Willy, but to his brothers in arms, William Alexander Allen was known simply as Bill.
A lieutenant in the 58th Canadian Infantry Battalion, the twentyfour year old from Kincardine, Ontario, fought at Vimy Ridge and, following the battle, was ordered to guard trenches that had been captured from the enemy. It was dangerous work, since the Germans had been ordered to recapture the positions in a series of rapid counterattacks.
Allen’s diary entry of April 17 suggests the men were worn out by fatigue: “[Battalion] is being relieved tonight by 1st C.M.R. The men have now done nine days duty in the trenches and are in no condition to carry on.”
Allen enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec, on September 23, 1914, and served as a corporal in the 9th Battalion. He likely received a field promotion to lieutenant.
Sadly, his diary entry of April 17 would be his last. He died the next day, killed by a German shell while walking to his billet in Villers-Au-Bois, a small village near the Belgian border.
“This officer only with us a short time, but he showed great promise. His death is greatly regretted,” states an entry in the 58th Battalion diary on April 18, 1917. Allen left behind two brothers and two sisters and is buried at Ecoivres Military Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France.