Lieutenant Colonel William D. Allan, D.S.O. †
3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion
Since going into the trenches he was three times wounded, and mentioned in dispatches for many acts of signal bravery. The people of Canada still vividly recall the story of heroism when he went with another soldier into No Man’s Land under heavy fire to carry in a wounded comrade. The man was struck by a bullet and killed as they were carrying him to shelter. For this and other conspicuous acts of bravery he was awarded the D.S.O.
(Toronto Globe, 3 Oct 1916, 4)
William Donald Allan was a meteorologist and seventeen year member of the Queen’s Own Rifles. He was born in Toronto on 25 November 1879. Allan served as a company captain with the 3rd Battalion during the second battle of Ypres. After Robert Rennie was promoted to command the 4th Brigade, Allan took charge of the 3rd on 10 November 1915.
He led the Toronto battalion through the battles of Mont Sorrel and the Somme until he was wounded by a shell splinter. He carried on until September 1916 when he fell ill and was replaced by Major J. B. Rogers. Although the wound had been slight, it proved fatal.
Allan was evacuated to a hospital in England but his condition deteriorated. While his mother and father were crossing the Atlantic to visit him, Allan died of a brain abscess on 1 October 1916. His parents returned with the body for burial in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
As a city newspaper observed, “Toronto will shortly have an unusual honor of paying tribute to the remains of a man who has given his life for his country on a foreign battlefield.” In the largest military funeral in the city to date, 8,000 civilians and soldiers attended the procession. Fellow Second Ypres veteran Colonel B. H. Belson of the 81st and Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Cooper of the 198th were among the pallbearers.
The Globe eulogized the 3rd Battalion commander:
That his capacity and service obtained recognition by the military authorities is a source of satisfaction, for it shows that our military system is on a stable foundation. Public recognition of his worth is also accorded, and the deepest sympathy is extended to his parents and relatives in this hour of national trial.
RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 112 – 21