Private Allan Peel
Pakenham South War Memorial
Born: 19 October 1891 - Stratford, Victoria
Enlisted: 5 July 1915 aged 23
Unit: 23rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcement (SERN: 2440)
Served: Western Front
Died: 1976 - Donvale, Victoria
Allan (also sometimes recorded as “Alan”) was the son of Ernest William and Maria Peel of “Silverdene”, Blackwarry, in the hill country between Traralgon and Yarram. Prior to the War, he farmed with his father in the Yarram and Leongatha Districts (1). Allan was a 23 year old labourer (farmer) when he enlisted for service in July 1915. He was one of three brothers and two brothers-in-law who eventually enlisted (2). Interestingly, amongst those to enlist from the Yarram district around the same time as Allan was Edward Gabbett, brother of Esca and Ernie Gabbett, who were Diggers associated with Pakenham (3). Allan was assigned to the 23rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcement at Broadmeadows Army Camp. Just before he left for Egypt in late September 1915, news came through that his brother, Walter George Peel of the 4th Light Horse, had been killed at Gallipoli, aged just 20 (4) In Egypt, Allan had some ill-health, being admitted to hospital in Cairo on a couple of occasions, including for mumps. In March 1916, Allan was shipped to the Western Front with his unit. The 23rd battalion subsequently lost an estimated 90% of its strength during the Battles of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm (4a) Allan was one of the casualties, receiving a severe shrapnel wound to the “lower extremities” (left buttock) on 22 August 1916. He was hospitalised in England and did not rejoin his unit in France until December 1916 (5).
Allan was wounded in action again on 1 September 1918 at Mont St Quentin, this time sustaining a severe wound to the left leg. He was sent to the 5th Australian Field Hospital in Rouen, then invalided to England. Allan remained there for the rest of the War,. He arrived back in Australia in March 1919 and was discharged from the Army on 15 September 1919 (6). As in many other towns, the people of Blackwarry decided to honour their returning Diggers with special medals (7). Allan may have worked for a period with the Department of Agriculture, as his Victory Medal was sent care of there (8). He married Louisa Lillian Vivash in 1921 (8). In 1922, Allan acquired a soldier settler block on Hagelthorn’s Estate in Pakenham South, but later surrendered it (9). By 1934, the Peels had moved to Melbourne, where Allan was working as a labourer (10). Allan served in WWII as a private (V365429) with the 4th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps (11). In later life, he was a fitter at Box Hill (12).
(1) & (9) PROV VPS 5714/P0 Unit 720 File 88/12.
(2) Gippsland Farmers’ Journal 22/10/1915, p. 3.
(3) Gippsland Standard 16/7/1915, p. 1
(4) Gippsland Standard 24/9/1915, p. 2
(4a) “23rd Australian Infantry Battalion” - https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51463
(5) (6) & (12) NAA B2455 PEEL ALLAN
(7) Traralgon Record 17/6/1919, p. 3.
(8) Victoria Births, Deaths & Marriages - www.bdm.vic.gov.au
(10) Ancestry.com.au - Electoral Roll - Kooyong - Auburn 1934 p. 130
(11) WWII Nominal Roll - www.ww2roll.gov.au
(12) Ancestry.com.au - Electoral Roll - Deakin - Box Hill -1967 p. 135