Hedley Allen was a 22 year old farmer from Tasmania’s east coast when he enlisted on 1 December 1914. As someone who had grown up on the land he was used to handling horses and possibly a rifle as well. So to be allotted to the Field Artillery Brigade as a driver suited his talents.
On 4 April 1915 he joined the 9th Battery whose men had been mainly drawn from Tasmania. Many were country boys also. It is not clear from his service record whether in fact he served at Gallipoli or was one of a group of men from the 9th Battery who were forced to remain in Egypt to care for the batteries horses.
A case of bronchitis didn’t prevent him from joining other members of the battery as they left behind the trying conditions of the heat and sand of Egypt for the lush green fields of France. Apart from leave to Paris in October 1917 and to England in January 1918 Hedley Allan managed to do his job while keeping out of harm’s way.
But by mid-1918 Hedley’s health began to deteriorate and he suffered several periods out of the line due to illness but this did not stop him from giving his all when in the line. His great gallantry and devotion to duty was rewarded with Belgian Croix de Guerre – his citation reading ‘for the period August 8th to October 1″ 1918 during this period this man has shewn [sic] great gallantry and devotion to duty, and by his initiative and courage has many times been responsible for the safety of ammunition wagon teams. His gallant acts have always had a very fine example on those around him.’
As the war drew to a close Hedley Allen was again in hospital suffering from pneumonia. From there he was shipped home to Australia at the end of 1918 about the same time as he would have learnt that he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre.
After the war Hedley returned to farming, married and became the father to two children – David and JUdith. Hedley was an avid reader of the Mercury and from time to time would write letters to the paper on a range of issues. In 1967 when the terrible bushfires struck, Hedley was living at Snug. The family home was destroyed along with Hedley’s precious medals. His loss touched the hearts of those in authority and his Croix de Guerre was replaced along with his other medals.
Having lost his home in the bushfires Hedley moved to Remembrance House in Stoke Street where he died on 12 September 1969.