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ALLARDYCE, Alick Gordon Pirie (1888-1962)

ALLARDYCE, Alick Gordon Pirie (1888-1962)

Born at Maffra on 5 September 1888, he was the son of Edwin Pirie Allardyce and Margaret nee Williamson. Alick was educated at Geelong College where he was enrolled in 1904. His entry address was Glen Thompson, Heyfield. At College in 1904, he gained the following class prizes: 1st, Arithmetic, Middle 4th Form; and 1st, Latin, 2nd Form.

During World War I, he served with 5 Squadron, 11th Light Horse (Militia) prior to enlistment on 12 February, 1915 then as Private Alick Allardyce (1378) with the 8th Light Horse Reinforcements. He embarked with them from Melbourne on HMAT A6 Clan MacCorquodale on 13 November 1915 for Egypt and arrived in D Company, 60 Battalion as a Corporal on 5 October 1916. Promoted to Lieutenant after attending No 6 Officer Cadet Training Battalion, Balliol College, Oxford, in January 1917, he served through the campaigns in France – Bullecourt, Ypres, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, Ancre, Villers Bretonneux, Amiens, Albert and Mont St Quentin, being appointed Battalion Intelligence Officer in July 1918. He was wounded firstly on 6 April 1918 by a shrapnel wound to his arm, and again by shrapnel to his buttock, elbow, legs and back, on 31 August 1918 at Mont St Quentin.

Captain Keith Doig, RMO (Regimental Medical Officer) also an Old Collegian, wrote in his diary on 8 September 1918:
'This afternoon I went over to No 2 Red Cross Hospital to see Alex Allardyce, a 60th officer and also an old Geelong College boy, who has been wounded. Altho’ he had a piece in his chest, back, elbow, both legs and one ankle, he seemed to be very happy, and looked surprisingly well for the severity of his wounds. He told me that our boys were very, very tired and were eagerly looking forward to a rest. May they soon get it, for they have done wonderful work'.

Allardyce was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgium), gazetted 12 July 1919, and Mentioned in Routine Orders for gallantry in November 1918, by Lieutenant-General W R Birdwood KCB, KCSI, KCMG, CIE, DSO, Commanding 1st Anzac Corps. He returned to Australia, embarking on RMS Orontes on 20 December 1918.

Raised in Egypt on 24 February 1916, 60 Battalion was part of the ‘doubling’ of the AIF. Half of its recruits were Gallipoli veterans from 8 Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. The majority of both groups were Victorians. The new battalion formed part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division. Having only arrived in France on 28 June, the 60th became embroiled in its first major battle on the Western Front on 19 July, without the benefit of an introduction to the trenches in a ‘quiet’ sector. The Battle of Fromelles was a disaster for the battalion. In a single day, it was virtually wiped out, suffering 757 casualties. These losses meant the battalion saw little further offensive action in 1916.

Early in 1917, the battalion participated in the advance that followed the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, but it was spared having to assault it. It did, however, defend gains made during Second Bullecourt. Later in the year, the AIF’s focus of operations switched to the Ypres sector in Belgium. The 60th’s major battle here was at Polygon Wood on 26 September. This assault was a success – a product of the systematic way in which the early actions during the third battle of Ypres were fought. With the collapse of Russia in October 1917, a major German offensive on the Western Front was expected in early 1918. This came in late March and the 5th Division moved to defend the sector around Corbie. During this defence, the 60th Battalion participated in the now legendary counter-attack at Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April. When the Allies launched their own offensive around Amiens in August, the 60th Battalion was amongst the troops in action on the first day.

By September 1918, however, the AIF was considerably under strength and one battalion in each brigade was ordered to disband to reinforce the other three. 60 Battalion was so ordered, and the men mutinied. After being addressed by Brigadier H E ‘Pompey’ Elliot they complied with the order and the battalion disbanded on 27 September, 1918. Their actions are indicative of the high regard in which Elliot was held, and of the high standard of discipline within the 60th; it was the only Australian battalion ordered to disband in September 1918 that did so.

Allardyce’s battalion’s battle honours were the Somme 1916, the Somme 1918, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Ancre 1918, Villers-Bretonneux, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, St Quentin Canal, France and Flanders 1916-1918, and Egypt 1915-1917.

During the Second World War he served with the 3rd Battalion and 23rd Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps. Alick Allardyce died in 1962.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp 126-7(citing Robin S Corfield, Hold Hard, Cobbers (1992); Australian War Memorial; The Pegasus; National Archives.)

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