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EXITAllan George French
Allan George French
Born 21st August 1891 - Killed in Action 23rd May 1916

    Allan George French was the third son of William and Esther French. The family originated from Lambourne in Essex but as Allan grew up they lived at North Farm, Loughton, Essex.

Allan had a number of siblings - Allanís older sisters Elizabeth, Sarah and Alice and his older brothers Charles and William and one younger brother John Linnaeus. North Farm was also the base for the family business. William French, Allanís father, had founded a company with his brother in 1870. The companyís business spanned road building, commercial carrying, brickmaking and farming. This was to become the company W & C French, the civil engineering company that thrived throughout much of the twentieth century and who we have to thank for many of the roads and airport facilites we use today.

Allan together with his brother John went to Bancrofts school as a day boy during the early years of the twentieth century. Allan was there between 1901 and 1907. He was capable academically with a clear talent in the area of engineering. It would have been natural for him to continue a career where the family business could use his talents to the full. His older brothers did follow this course. Recognising his promise as an engineer he was enrolled in the University of Birmingham.

Allan was in Birmingham when war broke out in August 1914. On 4th September 1914 he enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He underwent basic training and by 18th September 1915 he had been promoted to corporal and been appointed to the machine gun section.

On 24th October 1915 he applied for a commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment arriving at Boulogne in France on 21st November 1915 with the 15th Battalion the 2nd Birmingham Pals.
The Battalion was made up of men from the Birmingham and West Midlands areas, office boys, factory workers and farmers boys. He was formally commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant on 4th December 1915.
The Battalion through the Spring of 1916 and before its later movement to the Somme was to take its turns in the line between St Laurent Blagny and Vimy Ridge.
It was here that the fate of Allan was sealed. Allan was formally declared Missing in Action during the night of 22nd/23rd May 1916.

And there the story may have ended. For thousands of families and loved ones throughout the Great War ĎMissing in Actioní was a nightmare that would remain with them the rest of their lives.

The Bancroftian reflected the lack of information as to Allanís fate: Others gave some qualification: Allanís comrades in arms corroborated the accounts from their hospital beds, wounded parties from the same action.

In the scale of the Great War, in the scale of the thousands killed on both sides the loss of Allan was statistically insignificant. These accounts are written by soldiers on a short leave or themselves hospitalised in June 1916.
A number would go on to rejoin their battalion and fight through the High Wood battle on the Somme, others would be disabled the remainder of their days.

The uncertainty and then the accounts disturbed the family greatly and Allanís older brother William took responsibility for the inevitable dealings with the authorities that followed. He wrote:

"I suppose we must now accept the inevitable and conclude that he was killed."

Allanís body was never recovered and his loss is now commemorated on the ARRAS MEMORIAL.

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