In early July 1918 the Taranna community provided a warm welcome home to Private James Allen on his safe return similarly when the local boys left for war. Such celebrations must have been difficult for Egbert and Lucy Allen who had farewelled their four eldest sons as they went off to war. Only one son would return. A bitter blow for any parents to bear.
Paul was the fifth child and the fourth son born to Egbert and Lucy and the youngest one of the four to enlist. By 1914 the family were living at Taranna near Port Arthur where Egbert farmed ‘Wienna Park’.
On passing the medical examination and being accepted in the Australian Imperial Force, Paul Allen was allotted to the newly formed 40th Battalion, sailing from Hobart on board the HMAT A35 Berrima at the beginning of July. Also on board was his oldest brother Edwin who had volunteered a few days earlier. He too had been allotted to the 40th Battalion.
Having completed some basic training at Claremont Army Camp, upon arrival in England the troops spent their time training for life at the Front learning how to operate the Lewis guns, musketry, bombing, drill and route-marching. On 29 September Paul Allen was transferred to the 12th Battalion. Apparently 200 men were detached to reinforce battalions that had lost heavily on the Somme. Among those casualties was Paul’s brother Private Leslie Allen who was killed in action at Mouquet Farm whilst serving with the 52nd Battalion.
A month later he was transferred to the 51st Battalion and was still serving with this unit when it was ordered into action at Noreuil at the beginning of April. Private Paul Allen sustained a serious gunshot wound to his abdomen. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff at the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station he died the following day and was later buried at the Pozieres Military Cemetery.
Edwin Allen was the eldest of the six boys born to Egbert and Lucy Allen. Still single at age 26, he had moved to Hobart where he worked as a labourer. Edwin volunteered for enlistment on 26 February and after passing the required medical examination etc was allotted to the 40th Battalion.
On 20 July the battalion relieved the 38th Battalion as support battalion and occupied trenches on the ridge immediately north of Messines. The battalion remained here for the next 15 days and according to the official history ‘was constantly and heavily shelled’. While there is no mention of casualties from the shelling, the battalion sustained around 30 casualties from being subjected to mustard gas just days earlier.
The body of Private Edwin Allen was interred at Kandahar Farm Cemetery near Neuve Eglise, Belgium and the sad news transmitted to his parents who had already lost two sons to war.