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James Douglas ALLAN MM

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Sgt 4130 19y9m 13 Aug 1915 28 Aug 1919 4

James Douglas Allan MM (1895-1980)

Allan Brothers booklet

James (‘Doug’) Douglas Allan served in the 9th Australian Infantry Battalion during the First World War, was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, and was severely wounded but recovered well.  After the War he resumed what was to be a career of over 49 years in the Queensland Department of Public Lands.

His older brother, William (‘Bill’) Fife Allan is the subject of a separate entry, and that entry covers the detailed family background for them both.

Doug was born on 3 November 1895 in Wallangarra, Queensland - where his customs officer father was working at the time. In 1908 the family relocated to Brisbane, and for the following three years Doug attended the Brisbane Grammar School. In 1912 he joined the Department of Public Lands. 

Enlistment and service

Doug enlisted, together with his brother Bill, on 13 August 1915. Doug was aged 19 and as he was under 21, parental consent was given for this. Doug was recorded as being 5’8” (173cm) tall with a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes, and weighed 8st 10lbs (55kg). In camp at Enoggera in Brisbane Doug and Bill made friends with a young farmer from Lismore, Albert Hugh Larsson, who after the War would marry their sister Ethel.

On 3 January 1916 the three were among the reinforcements who embarked on HMAT A55 Kyarra in Brisbane, disembarking in Alexandria, and then travelling to Marseilles. They were taken on strength with the 9th Battalion in France on 14 May 1916.

The 9th Battalion’s first major action in France was in the attack at Pozieres in the Somme Valley and Australian casualties were horrendously high. Doug was wounded on 23 July 1916. Future brother-in-law Albert Larsson won the Military Medal for bravery on 25 July.

Doug was wounded for a second time on 20 September 1917 during the Battle of Menin Road, with severe shell wounds to the right side of his head and a fractured skull. After an operation he made a good recovery.

On 5 June 1918 Doug was made a Lance Corporal. The following month he became a temporary Corporal, and was confirmed in that rank in August 1918.

Doug earned his Military Medal for conspicuous devotion to duty during the period 16 September to 11 November 1918, and especially for his actions at Villaret on 18 September 1918, when he ‘observed an enemy Machine Gun inflicting casualties on the troops on his right. Using very good judgement he worked round to a flank and caused the enemy to flee. This allowed the line to advance without any opposition and resulted in the killing two of enemy machine gun crew, Again during the advance he engaged another enemy machine gun, by charging the crew and causing them to flee in terror. The boldness displayed by this N.C.O., and lack of hesitation was a means of overcoming the enemy and making good our advance’.

The papers also record that ‘his conduct out of the line has contributed towards increased efficiency in his company’. In October 1918 he was made a temporary Sergeant and this was confirmed in February 1919.

Doug came back to Australia on the Port Napier, arriving in July 1919 and was discharged on 28 August 1919. 


In 1919 Doug returned to the Rents Section in the Department of Public Lands - where he had been for six months before enlisting - and rose up the ranks of that Department until retirement in November 1961.

In the 1920s Doug worked in the Soldier Settlement Branch for one year, but spent most of his time in the Land Settlement Branch. He was noted by the Departmental Head as ‘a highly capable officer who does not spare himself’ and who had given ‘entire satisfaction in carrying out work of an important nature’

Doug married Phyllis May Jackson, a Gympie-born civil servant, in St Andrew’s Church on 1 August 1927. They had two sons – John Douglas and David Fife Allan – and lived in Rome Street, Yeronga in Brisbane.

In 1929 Doug was Secretary to the Land Administration Board for the purpose of an inquiry into sound settlement areas in south-west Queensland. He must have given ‘entire satisfaction’ in that work because in 1931 he was appointed Secretary to a Royal Commission that inquired into certain matters (particularly land settlement and forestry) relating to the development of North Queensland. In their report the Commissioners noted that the work required of the Secretary had been ‘exacting and strenuous, and the manner of its performance deserves our commendation’.

The following year Doug performed the secretarial work for the Special Committee that reported on the Eungella lands near Mackay, and then in 1937 he assisted and advised the Land Commissioners at Cunnamulla and Charleville with the organisation for large ballots for land in those localities.

In March 1938 Doug was promoted to Assistant Secretary, Land Administration Board, and had significant periods acting as Secretary to the Board.

Doug became Officer-in-charge of the Land Openings Branch in September 1944, and from 1949, under delegation from the Board, he made decisions for leasing land under forest grazing lease, special lease, perpetual town and suburban lease, and agricultural selection. He retired in 1961, having had over 49 years’ service in the Queensland Public Service.

World War 2 service

Doug joined the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) when it was established in mid 1940 by the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The VDC came under the control of the Australian Army in 1941, and then became part of the CMF in 1942. Most service in the VDC was part-time, and much of the time was spent in training for activities such as the construction of road blocks, demolition of bridges and piers, protection infrastructure, searchlight operations and guerrilla warfare.

Doug was initially in the 4th Queensland Battalion, but on graduating from Officer training in September 1942 he was appointed an acting Captain in the 3rd Queensland Battalion. He later spent some of his service in the VDC with coastal artillery batteries. In October 1945 he was placed on the reserve list.

Doug was also seconded from the Department of Public Lands to the Civil Defence Organisation in a full-time capacity for one year from 5 February 1942. On his return to the Department of Public Lands in February 1943 it was recorded that ‘he rendered most valuable and effective service’. The return was also ‘on the understanding that should the necessity arise, his service could at any time be availed of by the Civil Defence Organisation’.


Doug and Phyllis retired initially to the coastal town of Caloundra, but later moved to Cairns where Doug died on 18 January 1980. His remains were interred in the Cairns (Martyn Street) Cemetery with Presbyterian rites.

Select bibliography
• Annual reports, Department of Public Lands (Qld), Queensland Parliamentary Papers
• Australian War Memorial records
• Brisbane Grammar School records
• National Archives of Australia – service records, WW1 and WW2, repatriation file
• Queensland Births Marriage and Death Registers
• Queensland Blue Books (State Library of Queensland)
• Queensland Land Administration Board, Reports on land questions by Royal Commissions and the Land Administration Board 1927-1933 (State Library of Queensland)
• Queensland State Archives – JD Allans’s personnel file, Item ID 934515, Series 6219 Staff Files
• Anderson, Heather The Gardiner/McIntosh Connection (Privately published, Star Printing, 1997)
• Bean, CEW Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 (Sydney 1921-1942) vol vi
• Harvey, Norman K From Anzac to the Hindenberg Line: the history of the 9th Battalion, AIF (Brisbane, 1941)
• Palazzo, Albert The Australian army: a history of its organisation from 1901 to 2001 (Melbourne, 2001)
• Wrench, CM Campaigning with the fighting 9th: (in and out of the line with the 9bn A.I.F.)  1914-1919 (Brisbane, 1985)
• The Courier Mail (Brisbane) 11 April 1938 p.9S; 13 April 1942 p.8; 22 June 1943 p.4
• The Queenslander (Brisbane) 4 July 1891 p.35
• The Telegraph (Brisbane) 16 April 1881 p.2; 10 February 1891 p.3; 10 January 1913 p.2; 8 February 1940, p.9
• The Week (Brisbane) 30 March 1900 p.3
• Warwick Argus 22 March 1898 p.2
• Warwick Examiner and Times 1 August 1891 p.2
• Family Information

Compiled by Ian Carnell February 2016 ©



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