William Evan Allan
|William Evan Allan|
24 June 1899|
Bega, New South Wales
|Died||18 October 2005
|Service/branch||Royal Australian Navy|
|Years of service||1914–1947|
William Evan Crawford Allan (24 July 1899 – 18 October 2005) was, at the age of 106, one of Australia's last living veterans of the First World War, and the last remaining Australian who saw active service in both world wars. Allan was a career sailor in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), serving from 1914 to 1947.
He joined the RAN in March 1914 at the age of fourteen as an ordinary seaman second class. When war was declared on 14 August 1914, he was 15 and serving aboard the training ship HMAS Tingira, which was docked in Rose Bay, Sydney. He served on board HMAS Encounter until the end of the war, and became an able seaman in 1915. When he was eighteen, he survived the Spanish flu pandemic, which killed over fifty of his shipmates on a transport voyage between Cape Town and Sierra Leone.
Between the world wars, Allan almost drowned after falling overboard in the North Atlantic — and would have done so had his captain not braved the precipitous storm, turned the ship around, and rescued him with the help of a life preserver and a rope ladder. In 1932 he was promoted to chief petty officer.
Allan went on to serve on HMAS Adelaide in the Second World War, sailing in convoy with HM Ships Repulse and Hood. He retired from the Navy on 30 October 1947, after serving thirty-four years, being granted his war service rank of lieutenant prior to discharge.
He met his wife, Ita Blakely, while his ship was docked in Vancouver, Canada, in 1924, and he continued to write to her until his ship returned to Vancouver in 1941. They married on that return trip and sailed to Australia as newlyweds on SS Mariposa via Hawaii — only twelve days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.