Aug 5, 2014

Allan Wesley WALKEDEN [1897 - 1916]

The following is a studio portrait of 2062 Private (Pte) Allan Wesley Walkeden, 3rd Reinforcements, 26th Battalion, of Derby, Tasmania, aged 18.

Pte Walkeden enlisted on 22 June 1915 and embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Makarini on 10 September 1915. He was killed in action on 5 August 1916 at The Battle of Pozieres, Somme, France.

The DALITZ Brothers of Horsham and Raymond BARTRAM of Richmond also set sail on board the HMAT MAKARINI in September 1915

Allan - a baker by trade - was born in 1897 at Sale, Victoria, Australia to James Richard Henry WALKEDEN and Harriet Melinda FOGWILL.

At the time of enlistment in 1915 Allan was living in Tasmania with the rest of his family and mentioned that he spent two years in the Army Cadets.

Allan - or WALKIE as he was known in the 26th Battalion - embarked Melbourne on 10th September on board the HMAT Makarini bound for the Greek island of Lemnos, arriving at the port of Mudros on 30th November 1915.  The original division of the 26th Battalion were already at Gallipoli at this time and were calling for more men.

Mudros gained wartime significance with the determination of the Allies - chiefly the British and largely through the enthusiasm of Winston Churchill.


"Walkie" was taken on strength with the 26th Battalion at Gallipoli on 9th December in the area known as Mule Gully and Russell Top. Three days later he was on a troopship back to Mudros and they were marched to Sarpi Camp. Just two days after Christmas in 1915, he was punished for reasons unknown other than "Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline" and was awarded 72 hours field punishment. I am not so sure that it was an 'award'!

On 9th January 1916 the 26th Battalion disembarked (ex Mudros) on board HMT Hororata and arrived at Alexandria at 0830 and entrained for their next camp Tel-El-Kebir at 1800.

According to the Battalion diaries,  all of January and February 1916, the 26th Battalion were at Tel-El-Kebir training 'as usual'.  March 1916 they were at the staging camp at Ismailia digging trenches for defences. Two weeks later - on the 15th March - "Walkie" departed for Alexandria at 8.30pm arriving in Marseilles, France by the 21st.

According to the diaries, it was a rough sea trip on board the HMT Northland and many men were sea sick.

On 24th March the 26th Battalion were marched in falling snow to Morbecque, w
here they took up their first billets on French soil which was a school and three farms. The billets were dirty, and the remainder of the day was spent in cleaning them up and getting settled. It was cold, snowy weather and the change from a warm climate was felt severely.

The icy weather made life during the day miserable – but the drop in temperature at night was even worse.

They stayed here in Morbecque until the 4th April when they moved out towards
the famous Armentieres, a march of about eleven miles.  On their way they passed Hazebrouck, Merris and Outlarsteene. Arriving at Hallebean late afternoon on the same day.   They did not reach Armentieres until 7th April where they were housed in billets around Rue Marle.

It is now 9th April 1916 and it has been raining for quite sometime, the Battalion is getting ready to take over the firing line by the 11th.

From the 11th April through till the end of May 1916, "Walkie" (Allan Walkeden)
and the rest of the Battalion were moved into the front-line trenches near Armentières, in an area dubbed “the nursery”.

Although the Australians were in a relatively quiet sector, there were periods of sharp fighting, shelling, and some heavy raids; by the end of June over 600 men had been killed. Only a few days earlier, Private William Jackson became the first man of the AIF to win the Victoria Cross in France. He rescued wounded members of his raiding party from no man’s land until his arm was blown off by a shell.

July 1916 they were in the trenches at Messines and then moved on to Tara's Hill at Pozieres where the 26th fought in it's first major battle between 28th July and 7th August.

For men thrown into the fighting at Pozières the experience was simply hell. The battlefield had become the focus of artillery fire from both sides. Attacks went in, some ground was taken, and then the enemy would counter-attack.

Throughout this action the fighting was wild, and all the time the shelling tore up the ground, folded the trenches in, and blew away any protection.

Major Walter Claridge wrote to his wife:
I knew you would be ashamed if I played the coward, so I kept straight on at the head of my platoon. I was thankful to get [wounded] as it got me out of the firing line for a rest. Australia may well be proud of the part its boys played in taking Pozières.
The ordeal at Pozières, both physical and mental, was more than men could put up with for very long. Courage made little difference, what each man needed was endurance and luck.

Sergeant R. Baldwin, of the 27th Battalion wrote:

We came out this morning as best we could. We are a very shaken lot. Well, we went in and relieved the first division on the night of August 1, six days ago. I saw some awful things although I never got a mark, we are all on the edge, all our nerves are wrecked, we lost some fine men.

The 26th Battalion took part in the attack on Pozieres Heights at 9.15pm (see attached report) on the 4th August 1916.

The 26th Battalion diary has for the 5th August:

repelling enemy attack, took 91 prisoners, killing many others, Bn reassembles at Tara's Hill. 32 KIA.

 It was then that Allan Wesley Walkeden was first reported as Missing in Action.  But later that day was changed to "Killed in Action" according to the Red Cross reports:

Sap / Sapping: In trench warfare, the practice of digging small ‘sap’ trenches at roughly ninety degrees out from existing lines and then digging a new trench line at the front of the saps. A slow, but relatively safe, way of moving forward.

Unfortunately, this 'relatively safe' sap did not save Allan Walkeden from the German shell that exploded in the trench where he was standing.

Walkie's (Allan Walkeden) body was never recovered, but his memorial will forever remain at Villers-Bretonneux.

Allan Wesley Walkeden's
name will be projected
onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory
of the AWM in Canberra on:

Thu 28 August, 2014 at 8:25 pm
Tue 14 October, 2014 at 1:48 am
Sat 6 December, 2014 at 10:27 pm
Sat 31 January, 2015 at 1:50 am
Mon 23 March, 2015 at 2:06 am
Tue 5 May, 2015 at 6:45 pm
Sun 14 June, 2015 at 9:56 pm
Wed 22 July, 2015 at 4:33 am

These dates and times are estimates.
The actual time of projection could change as a result of weather and other factors, 
so it is advisable to check closer to the date.
In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.


This website will be of interest to those with any family member that fought at Pozieres:

Pozieres Memorial Park

With grateful thanks to the following for information 
and the use of images & data off their sites.:


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