William Allen (VC 1879)

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William Wilson Allen
Alphonse de Neuville - The defence of Rorke's Drift 1879 - Google Art Project.jpg
Depiction of the Defence of Rourke's Drift
by Alphonse de Neuville
Born c. 1843
Kyloe, Northumberland
Died 12 March 1890(1890-03-12) (aged 46-47)
Monmouth, Monmouthshire
Buried at Monmouth Cemetery (51°49′10.17″N 2°42′53.29″W / 51.8194917°N 2.7148028°W / 51.8194917; -2.7148028Coordinates: 51°49′10.17″N 2°42′53.29″W / 51.8194917°N 2.7148028°W / 51.8194917; -2.7148028)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Sergeant
Unit 24th Regiment of Foot
Battles/wars Anglo-Zulu War
Rorke's Drift
Awards Victoria Cross

William Wilson Allen, VC (circa 1843 – 12 March 1890) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC) for his actions at the Battle of Rorke's Drift in January 1879, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


He had joined the 24th Regiment at Aldershot in 1859. He was about 35 years old, a sergeant who had recently been reduced in rank to corporal for being drunk on duty. He was in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot (later The South Wales Borderers), British Army during the Zulu War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 22 and 23 January 1879 at Rorke's Drift, Natal, South Africa, Corporal Allan and another man (Frederick Hitch) kept communication with the hospital open, despite being severely wounded. Their determined conduct enabled the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital, and when incapacitated by their wounds from fighting, they continued, as soon as their wounds were dressed, to serve out ammunition to their comrades during the night.[1]

He later achieved the rank of sergeant for the second time.

He died of influenza on 12 March 1890 at 85 Monnow Street, Monmouth, at the age of 46. A fund was set up to help the family, his wife, Sarah Ann and his seven children.[2] He is buried at Monmouth Cemetery, Monmouthshire. [3]

Grave of William Wilson Allen VC

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon.

Film portrayal[edit]

In the 1964 film Zulu, Allen was portrayed by Glynn Edwards.


  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24717. p. 3178. 2 May 1879. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  2. ^ Harrison, David (June 2008). Monmouth Cemetery Trail 1 (leaflet). 
  3. ^ "Cpl. William Wilson Allen (1240 B Co. 24th. Regiment)". rorkesdriftvc.com. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 

External links[edit]