Reginald Allan Biggs was a jounalist, musician and soldier. His journal of his time as a signaller in the First World War is a fascinating insight into his experiences in the war.Continue reading “Tasmanians in World War 1: Private Reginald Allan Biggs (Private Ashmead)”
Harrier, soldier, furrier,
Cyril prior to World War 1
In 1908, Cyril joined the New Town Harrier club continuing until he went to war in September 1915. He even appeared in the first race of the season held at Moonah on Saturday 26 June 1915. It was a two mile handicap race in which Cyril finished in fourth place.
Cyril returned to running for New Town after the war. In later life, he became an administrator in the club. In 1912, Cyril began an apprenticeship as a furniture upholsterer with Whitesides & Sons which ran a furnishing warehouse at 166 Liverpool Street, Hobart.
Going to war
Together with his unit, the 12th Australian Infantry Battalion, Private Cyril John Allen embarked at Melbourne on board HMAT Hororata A20 on 27 September 1915. You can follow the progress of Cyril’s battalion by reading the 12th battalion diaries from 1914 to 1919.
Cyril was awarded the Military Medal in June 1917 and promoted to the rank of corporal. In 1918, Cyril was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served as Acting Quartermaster-Sergeant (AQMS).
A certificate was issued to “Cyril John Allen MM2905 – Sergeant – 12th Battalion. Served with honour and was disabled in the Great War. Honourably discharged on 7.8.19”.
Cyril served his country in both world wars as his service records show.
Cyril served as a machine gunner in the same platoon as his good friend, Gunner Tom Williamson. In 1917, Tom was killed a few yards away in the trenches. While still at the front, Cyril wrote a consoling letter to Tom’s mother.
Cyril returned to Australia on board the SS Suffolk in June 1919. On the first day home from the war, Cyril is pictured in an open-air car which might be a 1917 E-X-45 Buick Tourer. It sports an Australian flag from a side panel. Squeezed into the seat is Cyril, his mother, and the driver, Mr Craige, who was influential in the New Town Harrier Club.
A Belgium family
Between 1918 and 1970, Cyril received many letters, photographs and postcards from a family in Chatelet, Belgium, with whom Cyril was billeted during the first world war.
Furrier business after the war
In July 1972, Cyril received a number of appreciative letters from students at Chigwell Primary School for a talk he gave about animal furs.
Cyril and his family were active members of the New Town Methodist Church. Prior to the second world war, Cyril was superintendent at Albert Park Methodist Sunday School. He continued to support the Methodist Church into the 1960s and 1970s with donations.
World War II
Cyril served in Australia in World War II. In the late 1930s, Cyril is pictured with full medals on display on ANZAC Day.