Sidney James Allanson served with the second battalion of the Coldstream Guards. He attested for service in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 3 June 1915. He transferred to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in the field on 10 June 1916. Sidney was killed in the battle of Mount Sorrel, Ypres on 18 July 1916. He was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Allanson, of 18, Sandringham Drive, New Brighton, Wallasey, CheshirePrivate-S-J-Allanson-CWGC-Certificate
The battle of Mount Sorrel
March to August 1916
Of the three general actions near Ypres in which the Canadians were involved, the ” Battle of Mount Sorrel ” is least known, for it concerned only the Canadian Corps, and was of far less strategic consequence than either the German drive for the ports in 1915 or the British autumn offensive of 1917. In a history of the Patricias, however, the course of the fighting in the great salient during the second spring and summer of the war must be set forth in some detail; for the engagement at Sanctuary Wood, where the fighting reached its height in the first week of June, is not less important in the regimental annals than the defence of Bellewaerde Ridge and the battle in the mud for the
pill-boxes at Meetcheele.
After ten days at ” A ” Camp on the Poperinghe July road the Patricias returned by train to Ypres on July 11 and marched up into support at the Zillebeke Bund Dug-outs behind Zillebeke Lake. Large working-parties were sent up to the line each night, almost the whole Battalion being engaged on work in and near the new front line in Sanctuary and Armagh Woods. The Bund was not an easy mark, and although the Germans shelled it with 5*9 howitzers on the 13th they failed to cause inconvenience otherwise than to the fish in the lake. On the night of July 15/16 the Regiment moved into trenches 46 to 55, practically identical with the old Mount Sorrel line of June 2, which had been retaken on June 13. The relief was difficult, for the enemy, who was very near on Mount Sorrel, got wind of the change before it was completed and put over enough rifle grenades and trench mortar shells to kill or wound 12 men. The defences were still being rebuilt and Major-General L. J. Lipsett, D.S.O., who had succeeded to the command of the 3rd Division after the death of General Mercer on June 2, had ordered much work to be done. By night the whole Battalion worked like beavers, pushing out saps, repairing and strengthening the front line and carrying up quantities of engineers’ supplies through the debris of Armagh Wood.
On the night of July 16/17 Lieutenant W. H. Morris, the Scout Officer, went out in front of the Mount Sorrel trenches with Captain C. J. T. Stewart of No. 3 Company and discovered an apparently unoccupied trench between the two lines. Captain Stewart revisited this trench at dusk on the following night, taking a party of men with him to repair and hold it. The party was surprised to find the trench garrisoned by some nine Germans, who withdrew when Captain Stewart Chapter threw a bomb among them. The trench was then reconnoitred for 125 yards, and found to be in good repair, provided with eight deep dug-outs, and having another trench leading out of it into the enemy’s front line ; and an officer’s party was left to consolidate and garrison the position, which was shortly afterwards officially named ” Stewart Trench.” Patrolling was very active during this week, five or more parties covering the divisional front nearly every night. A brigade order of July 16 reported the information that the Germans were withdrawing troops from the salient, 1 and the Canadian Corps was considering a general attack upon the Bird-cage and the high ground between Bodmin Copse and the Menin road. The Patricias on Mount Sorrel were instructed to push forward and consolidate saps, and Captain Stewart’s reconnaissance in force was a part of this work.
On the same night the Regiment took part in a lively and successful minor operation along with the 42nd Battalion and the Royal Canadian Regiment farther to the left. The bombers went out down the saps towards the German lines on Mount Sorrel at about 1.30 a.m. on the 18th, and getting quickly within range of the enemy’s trenches threw some 500 grenades. Two supporting Stokes guns put about 90 rounds into the German line and the artillery also joined in. The enemy must have suffered a good deal of discomfort and his nerves were for the moment badly shaken, while the attacking party had practically no losses. But the morale of the Wiirttembergers, as good troops as ever faced the Patricias, was not to be upset by so small an affair, and they retaliated heavily at about 8.30 p.m. on the same day. An intense bombardment of trench – mortar shells and rifle grenades was directed for two hours upon the 7th Brigade, more particularly between trenches 47 and 50, held by Nos. 1 and 3 Companies P.P.C.L.I. This bombardment did a great deal of damage : direct hits were made on both Company fronts, three saps were demolished, and No. 1 Company had a good many killed and wounded. A few of the enemy left their trenches at Mount Sorrel when the shelling ended at 10.30 p.m., but there was no concerted attack and those who exposed themselves suffered for their overboldness. The Regiment was relieved twenty-four hours later and moved to Ypres, where it received a message of congratulation from General Lipsett on its ” good spirit of offensive enterprise.” At Ypres the days were spent in sand-bagging the Infantry Barracks and the nights in working on the front line. On the 25th the Regiment moved back by train to the Poperinghe camps, and on the following day marched to Steenvoorde. This strenuous July tour ended with a hot and dusty march, and officers and men were tired out by the time they reached the familiar rest-camp.
July 11. Relieved 49th in Zillebeke Bund in brigade support.July 13. Shelled in morning by 5-9 howitzers. No casualties.
July 15. Relieved 49th in front line at Mount Sorrel (Headquarters at Valley Cottages). Twelve casualties during relief.July 16. Saps pushed forward at night, line strengthened, and ” Stewart Trench ” discovered.
July 18. Stewart Trench consolidated. Successful demonstration at 1.30 a.m. by bombers and Stokes gunners against German trenches on Mount Sorrel. Enemy retaliated at 8.30 p.m. with 2 hours’ bombardment, doing considerable damage to trenches and causing a number of casualties.
July 19. Regiment relieved by 5th C.M.R. and moved into divisional reserve at Chateau Beige and Ypres. Working-parties by day and night.
July 25. Relieved by 58th and moved by train to Camp B.
Sidney James Allanson was born to Robert and Elizabeth (nee Davies) Allanson 12 May 1894 in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. At time he had two siblings, Ellen, born in 1887 and William, born in 1888; both born in Liverpool. A brother, Robert, had been born in 1890 but died in 1892. He was baptised on 7 Oct 1894 in Liscard, St John, Cheshire, England.
He was age 6 and living with his parents in the 1901 UK Census on 31 Mar 1901 at Rice Lane in Liscard, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. His father was a Chemical Works Manager.
He later had two sisters born in Egremont, Cheshire. These were Mary born in 1897 and Lillian born in 1899.
He was a Accountant’s Clerk in 1911. He was age 16 and living with his parents, his two youngest sisters, Mary and Lillian, and his grandmother, Ellen, in the 1911 UK Census on 2 Apr 1911 at Monk Road in Liscard, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England.
Prior to enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was an accountant with the Grain Growers Grain Co and lived at 238 Colony Street, Winnipeg, Canada.
He served in the military Regiment: Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment); Rank: Private; Service number: 460004 in 1916.
He died on 18 Jul 1916 at age of 22 years and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium, having no known grave.
His mother died on 12 Jan 1929 at age of 66 years in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. and his father on 20th July1947 at age of 81 years in Bootle (Lancashire), Lancashire, England.
It is difficult to prove a reason why Sidney James Allanson was in Canada at the time he enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. He appears to have emigrated to Canada after the UK 1911 census when he had an occupation. He was employed as an accountant in Canada.
Allanson does not appear to be a common name in Canada. By looking at the Canadian Census from1891 to 1911, there is a James and Jane Allanson that emigrated to Canada in about 1883, with 4 children, apparently born in the UK. They moved west from Ottawa (1891) to Algoma (1901) to Winnipeg (1911) on subsequent Census years. Although not definitively proven, James Allanson, may have been Sidney’s father’s uncle. Maybe that was the reason for Sidney emigrating to Canada.
Sidney’s employer, the Grain Growers’ Grain Company, was a farmers’ cooperative founded in the prairie provinces of western Canada in 1906. The volume of grain handled by the company increased in that period from 2.3 million in 1907 to almost 28 million bushels in 1912. At the time of the merger with Alberta Farmers’ Co-operative Elevator Company, it owned 103 elevators, 122 coals sheds and 145 warehouses. The GGGC owned 60 elevators in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, leased and operated 137 elevators owned by the Manitoba Government, and had 55 coal sheds and 78 warehouses for flour and farm supplies. Thus Sidney joined the company at a rapid time of expansion.
Grave Details – YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL
His war grave details can be seen here. This links to the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website.
Remembered in Birkdale Cemetery.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DIED 11th DEC 1901, AGED 68 YEARS.
AND OF ELLEN, HIS WIFE
DIED 23rd OCT 1912, AGED 72 YEARS.
ALSO OF ROBERT, SON OF
ROBERT AND ELIZABETH ALLANSON
DIED 25th MARCH 1892, AGED 2 YEARS.
AND OF THEIR SON
KILLED IN ACTION 18th JULY 1916,
AGED 22 YEARS,
(RECORDED ON THE MENIN GATE)
ALSO OF ELIZABETH, WIFE OF
DIED 12th JAN 1929, AGED 65 YEARS.
ALSO OF THE ABOVE
DIED 20th JULY 1947 IN HIS 82nd YEAR.
HE GIVETH HIS BELOVED SLEEP
Cemetery Details – YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL,
Ypres (now Ieper) is a town in the Province of West Flanders. The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk). Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while buglers of the Last Post Association sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial’s arches.
Panel Numbers quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment with which the casualty served. In some instances, where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may appear within their Regimental Panels. Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction. All odd panel numbers are on the North side of the road and even numbers are located on the South side of the road.
Steps on either side of the memorial leading to the rear of the memorial, make wheelchair access to the rear impossible. There is however, a slope at the side of the memorial which gives wheelchair users some access but due to the incline, it may not be possible to ascend/descend unaided.
Please note that every Friday, all wreaths positioned under the Menin Gate will be checked and removed as necessary, with the exception of those placed on the floral tribute the previous evening.
The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.
The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.
There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.
The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September.
The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites.
The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.
The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927.