|Allason, W (1875-1960)||Brigadier-General|
|GOC Infantry Brigade||DSO*|
Walter Allason was commissioned in the Bedfordshire Regiment from the Militia on 9 December 1896. He was well known before the war (and, indeed, after it) as a swimmer. He was English Plunging [diving] Champion in 1896-7, 1902, 1908, 1909 and 1922. He represented the Army v the Royal Navy at swimming from 1924 to 1927 and in 1929 and 1930, by which time he was 55! He was also a crack shot, winning the Aldershot Command Officers' Challenge Cup in 1912. Allason saw active service in the South African War (1899-1900) and was mentioned in despatches.
By the outbreak of the European War he was 39 and had reached the rank of major. He went to war with 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment as part of 15th Brigade, 5th Division, in the original BEF. Allason remained with his battalion until August 1915 when he was wounded, one of four wounds he received during the war. He won his first DSO in February 1915.
Allason spent August 1915 to June 1916 at home, first as BM 13th Reserve Infantry Brigade (August 1915-April 1916) and then as GSO2 Catterick Reserve Centre (April-June 1916). He returned to active service in July 1916 as CO 1st Bedfordshire. He was to enjoy a long period as a battalion commander (until April 1918), winning a second DSO in November 1916. The citation read: ‘He executed an attack with the greatest initiative and resource, thereby enabling a strong enemy position to be captured. He handled his battalion with greatest skill throughout the operations.'
Allason was promoted GOC 52nd Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division, on 14 April 1918, in succession to Brigadier-General A J F Eden, who had been injured a few days earlier. Allason was 43. He was the last man to command 52nd Brigade during the war.
Dr John Bourne
Image courtesy: The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War