b. 1843 Kysoe, near Berwick upon Tweed. d. 12/03/1890 Monmouth, Wales.
William Wilson Allen (1843-1890) was originally thought to have been born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1843, but it is now believed he was born in Kysoe, near Berwick upon Tweed. He enlisted at the age of 15 in October 1859 in York.
He rose to the rank of Sergeant in the 24th Regiment of Foot (later South Wales Borderers), but some ill-discipline with alcohol saw him reduced in rank to Corporal. He then became the Assistant Schoolmaster at Brecon Barracks and in 1876 married a local girl called Sarah Ann Reeves in August that year. They went on to have seven children.
Soon after his marriage, Corporal Allen left with his regiment for action in the Zulu Wars which began in 1877. By January 1879, Allen found himself serving at the Rorke’s Drift Mission, when news filtered through of the defeat at Isandhlwana. On the night of 22nd-23rd January 1879 under the command of Lieutenants Chard of the Royal Engineers, and Bromhead of the 24th, Corporal Allen and another man, Private Frederick Hitch were heavily involved in keeping communication open between the hospital and the barricades. During this action, Allen was wounded in the left shoulder, and briefly left the front line to get treatment. Their actions had already helped the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital safely, and having had their wounds dressed, they returned to action. Unable to bear arms due to his wounds, Allen joined with Hitch in distributing ammunition boxes around to their comrades throughout the night.
Allen was recommended for the Victoria Cross and his citation alongside Hitch was published in the London Gazette on 2nd May 1879. He was presented with his medal later that year on 9th December by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Later he served as a Sergeant Instructor with the 3rd Militia Battalion in Brecon and the 4th Volunteer Battalion in Monmouth.
In the early months of 1890, Allen contracted influenza and sadly died on 12th March, aged 47. A fund was set up straight away to look after his widow and seven children. He was buried in Monmouth Cemetery, and his medals are held by the South Wales Borderers Regimental Museum, Brecon.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOUTH WALES BORDERERS MUSEUM, BRECON, WALES.
BURIAL PLACE: MONMOUTH CEMETERY, MONMOUTH, WALES.
SECTION B, GRAVE 25
Thomas Stewart – Image of the Allen VC Building in Brecon