Arthur Allen file photo [7772]

Arthur Allen

Given NameArthur
Born10 Mar 1894
Died25 Jan 1959


ww2dbaseArthur Allen's rotund appearance earned him the nickname "Tubby" amongst his fellow officers in the Australian Army. While this moniker conjured visions in one's mind of a cuddly, harmless teddy bear, this could not be further from the truth. When Thomas Blamey was appointing brigade commanders for the 6th Division, Allen was one of the three officers chosen. As the 6th Division played a pivotal role in the drive from Cairo westward along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, scattering substantial Italian forces before them, Allen's 2/16 Brigade spearheaded the assault on the first coastal town encountered, Bardia. The 2/16 Brigade, and its commander, gained a fearsome reputation as they remained on the forefront of the Allied offensive all the way to Benghazi (a distance of 800 kilometres). Despite the strategic errors of British command, Allen and the 2/16 Brigade retained their reputation in the ill-fated Greek campaign, so on 18 June 1941 Blamey promoted Allen to the rank of major-general and appointed commander of the 7th Division. Allen and his new division faced difficult conditions in Syria, before Churchill decided to send the 6th and 7th Divisions back to the Far East, but Curtin, upon the advice of the Australian military chiefs, insisted that those AIF divisions return home post haste. After their arrival in their homeland, Allen and the division under his command contributed to the difficult fighting in the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

ww2dbaseArthur Samuel Allen was born in Hurstville, a suburb of Sydney, in 1894. He attended Hurstville Superior Public School before gaining work as an audit clerk with the NSW Government Railways. He then served in the 39th Battalion of the militia, but not commissioned until 1913. He was appointed to the First AIF on 24 June 1915, embarking with reinforcements for the 13th Battalion in August, bound for Egypt. In March 1916 he was promoted to captain and assigned the 45th Battalion. He arrived in France on 8 June 1916 and fought at Pozeres in August. He remained leading in the front line in the Battle of the Somme during 1917, as well as through the Battle of Messines in June. The following month Allen's leadership despite heavy casualties was officially recognized when he received the Distinguished Service Order and was promoted to the rank of major. He attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel in command of the 48th Battalion, which he led at Monument Wood. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his service on the Western Front, but his appointment with the AIF ended on 10 November 1919. He became an accountant after the war and married Agnes Blair in 1921. He remained active in the militia, attempting to simultaneously live as a civilian and a soldier. In 1933 he was made a full colonel in command of the 14th Brigade. In 1938 he was promoted to brigadier, attaining the command of the 2/16 Brigade, that earned him such a high military status, in October 1939. By the time he returned to Australia in March 1942, Allen was one of the few officers in the Australian Army who had commanded, through both world wars, men from platoon level, through company, battalion, and finally divisional level. Unfortunately Allen was relieved of the command of the 7th Division on 29 October due to Blamey and MacArthur's squabbling during the Kokoda campaign. He was replaced by George Vasey. Later in that month Allen was made Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The official historian observed that Allen was:

Blunt in speech, honest as the day, choleric yet kindly, without affectation or pomposity, he was a leader of a kind that immediately appeals to Australians. His military lore is drawn from experience rather than study, and is based upon a wide and sympathetic knowledge of men in battle.

ww2dbaseAfter the war he became a senior partner in an accountancy firm. Passing away in 1959, Allen was given a military funeral, after which he was cremated. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

ww2dbaseSources: P. Brune, A Bastard of a Place: Australians in Papua, Australian War Memorial, J. Beaumont, Australia's War: 1939-45.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2009

Arthur Allen Timeline

10 Mar 1894 Arthur Allen was born.
25 Jan 1959 Arthur Allen passed away.


Major General Iven Mackay of Australian 6th Division and his senior staff officers, Ikingi Maryut, Egypt, Dec 1940Major General Arthur Allen, commander of Australian 7th Division, and Lieutenant Colonel Murray Moten, commander of Australian 2/27th Infantry Battalion, Hammana, Lebanon, 2 Sep 1941Australian Brigadier Charles Spry pointing out locations of heavy fighting to Australian LtGen Edmund Herring, American Gen Douglas MacArthur, and Australian MajGen Arthur Allen, New Guinea, Oct 1942

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
28 Aug 2013 05:33:05 AM

Memoirs of soldiers who fought in New Guinea show that General Allen, and his predecessor, Brigadier Potts (who had been dismissed despite his efforts in defence of the Kokoda trail) were highly regarded by their men. But back in Australia MacArthur and Blamey thought that he was advancing too slowly, rarely threatening to overtake the retreating Japanese, and had him dismissed. Blamey, whilst undoubtedly a brilliant Staff Officer, did not once visit the front line and had no concept of the difficulties that his men were experiencing in the rugged and inhospitable terrain.
2. Anonymouspoo says:
5 Mar 2015 06:16:00 PM

it is awesome great info
3. Dr. Wilfrid Ewens says:
6 Apr 2016 10:14:06 PM

Tubby Allen was a great soldier. His treatment by MacArthur and Blamey was a disgrace. History showed that he had the plan to halt and repulse the Japanese, one that Vasey later implemented.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code



1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Arthur Allen
Event(s) Participated:
» Campaigns in the Middle East
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3

Arthur Allen Photo Gallery
Major General Iven Mackay of Australian 6th Division and his senior staff officers, Ikingi Maryut, Egypt, Dec 1940
See all 3 photographs of Arthur Allen

Famous WW2 Quote
"We no longer demand anything, we want war."

Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!