Allen, Robert Hugh (No. 17143)

Allen, Robert Hugh (Robert)


No. 17143, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 20)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919

for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour


Robert Hugh Allen was born on 26 May 1896 in Newtownards and he was the eldest son of James and Mary Ann Allen (nee McChesney) who were married on 22 December 1893 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  James Allen from Newtownards was a son of David Allen, a labourer.  Mary Ann McChesney from Newtownards was a daughter of Hugh McChesney, a labourer.

The Allen family lived in Newtownards at 35/38 Mill Street, 28 John Street Lane and 51 Frederick Street.

James Allen worked for a time as a fireman in the Gas Works and also as a general labourer and carter and he and Mary Ann had seven children:

Essie McKee (born 3 March 1895 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Robert Hugh (born 26 May 1896 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

James (born 22 August 1898 in John Street Lane, Newtownards)

Lizzie McChesney (born 28 May 1901 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

David (born 7 June 1903 in Mill Street, Newtownards; died of acute gastritis at 69 Mill Street 27 May 1907)

Samuel (born 26 March 1907 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

David (born 3 April 1911 in Frederick Street, Newtownards)

All of these children were baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.

After leaving school Robert Hugh Allen worked in a print works and he enlisted in Newtownards after the outbreak of the First World War.

He joined the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (1st County Down Volunteers) and went to France in October 1915.

He served with 108th Brigade in the 36th (Ulster) Division.

First reported as missing in action on 1 July 1916, it wasn’t until July 1917 that Robert’s father was officially informed that Robert must be ‘regarded as having been killed on that date or since’.

Deeply regretted by his father, mother, sisters and brothers, the Allen family placed a For King and Country notice in the 7 July 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  Reflecting the anguish they endured during the year that Robert was officially recorded as missing in action it contained the verse:

Weary and long have we waited

For his coming, but all in vain,

Asking ourselves this hopeless question,

Will he ever return again?

Rifleman Robert Hugh Allen was 20 when he was killed in action and he has no known grave.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards and in the Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour.