2nd Lieutenant John Steele Allan

Biography of 2nd Lieutenant John Steele Allan

John Steele Allan was born in Netherburn, Lanarkshire, on the 10th May 1885, son of William Allan, a Miner, who had died by the time that he matriculated at the University of Glasgow in the autumn of 1909. Aged 25 he was a little older than most of the freshmen. In his first year he took classes in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and in the following year English and Logic. He completed his degree curriculum in 1913 with passes in Latin, Moral Philosophy and Higher English.

Though not an outstanding student in these classes, he came into his own when he went on to take classes in Divinity. He matriculated in 1913, before graduating in Arts and gained an Honourable Mention in his first year as well as a fifth place in Church History. He graduated M.A. in June 1914.

War put his future on hold, as it did for a generation. He had been a member of the Officer Training Corps as a student, and after initially enlisting as a Private he was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant to the Royal Scots Fusiliers, effective from 21st January 1916, serving with the 9th Battalion. In October 1916 the Fourth Army, mired in mud after a period of heavy rain on the Somme, began its attack on the Transloy Ridges. General Haig was later criticised for proceeding in awful conditions in which so little ground was gained.

The 2nd Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers, to which John Allan was attached, gained 150 yards on the afternoon of the 12th October before withdrawing in the face of heavy machine gun fire. 2nd Lieutenant John Steele Allan was fatally wounded. He was 31. He is buried at the A.I.F. Burial Ground, Flers, where, after the Armistice in 1918, the remains of some 4,000 officers and men were brought from the battlefields of the Somme.

Three young men who were contemporaries in the Faculty of Arts died on the same day, 12th October 1916, in action on the Somme. John Steele Allan and Thomas Houston Boyle were both recently graduated M.A.s, both on course to enter the ministry after completing Divinity courses and both 2nd Lieutenants in the Royal Scots Fusiliers who took part in the Battle of Transloy Ridges. James Ross’s time at the University overlapped theirs. He was a Private in the 7th Bn. Seaforth Highlanders, part of the Fourth Army’s plan of attack on the same day.


2nd Lieutenant John Steele Allan
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Regiment: 9th Bn. attd. 2nd Bn. Royal Scottish Fusiliers
Degree: MA
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action, 12 October 1916.
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/637
Photo ID: N/A


University of Glasgow Registry and General Council records.

London Gazette, 18th January 1916.

Burial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Debt of Honour Register.

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