Private Cyril Sheldon Allen Tank Corps

Written by Karen Day
First Published


Cyril Allen on Burton High Street.
Photo courtesy of Christine Gill

The son of Ernest S. Allen and Sarah A. Allen of Normanby, Lincs. Born at Normanby he grew up locally, his father the Head Gardener at Normanby Hall and it is recorded that he enlisted in Scunthorpe. Originally serving with the Machine Gun Corp (MGC) The Heavy Section was formed in March 1916, becoming the Heavy Branch in November of that year. Men of this branch crewed the first tanks in action at Flers, during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. In July 1917 the Heavy Branch separated from the MGC to become the Tank Corps, later to become the Royal Tank Regiment.

Distinguished Conduct

A knocked out British tank half submerged
in mud and water. The third battle of Ypres.
© IWM (Q 6327)

Pte Cyril Sheldon Allen (Tank Corp) was awarded his Distinguished Conduct Medal for assisting Captain Clement Robertson, an acting Captain in The Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment, British Army, attached to A Battalion, Tank Corps when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

Here is a transcript of the citation printed in the London Gazette supplement pages on 6th February 1918.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He twice marked out routes under heavy enemy barrages, though on the first occasion he was blown up and badly shaken. Later he accompanied the tanks into action on foot, showing magnificent courage and contempt of danger.

London Gazette,
6th February 1918.

Both men were alongside of each other through this story and it would be remiss I feel not to include the citation for Captain C. Robertson's posthumous Victoria Cross. It also gives us a very good idea of the actions that merited both mens award and reads:

For most conspicuous bravery in leading his tanks in attack under heavy shell, machine-gun and rifle fire over ground which had been heavily ploughed by shell-fire. Captain Robertson, knowing the risk of the tanks missing the way, continued to lead them on foot, guiding them carefully and patiently towards their objective, although he must have known that his action would almost inevitably cost him his life. This gallant officer was killed after his objective had been reached, but his skilful leading had already ensured successful action. His utter disregard of danger and devotion to duty afford an example of outstanding valour.

London Gazette,
18th December 1917.

This act of bravery by the two men took place on 4th October 1917, Ypres but both had spent the previous three days and nights tracking over ground heavily scarred with shell fire, reconnoitring routes and marking them out with tape. By many accounts the ground at this time was also a quagmire having been the wettest Summer for 70 years and dangerous in itself, so much so men had drowned and tanks had foundered.

Memorial Services

Historian Paul Foster has written an article about the new memorial to Captain Clement Robinson VC and Private Cyril Allen DMC unveiled in 2015. You can download his article as a PDF here. Paul has written another article about the commemoration held for the two men in the 4th of October 2015, which you can read here.

On this link find photographs from a service which was held for both Private Cyril Sheldon Allen DCM and Captain Clement Robertson VC on October 10th 2009.

The Memorial in Foxhills Club Scunthorpe
The Memorial in Foxhills Club Scunthorpe
© Charles Anderson

Scunthorpe Steel Works

Pte Cyril Sheldon Allen is named as one of the 52 employees from the Scunthorpe works who gave their lives during the 1914 - 1918 war. The memorial plaque erected by J Lysaghts Ltd can be found at what is now Foxhills Club or Institute, Ferry Rd., Scunthorpe, it was originally Lysaghts Steelworks Social Club. The Lysaghts Works Plaque now resides on a wall at Scunthorpe Museum. You will also find on this memorial Hugh G De Lisle Bush and from the Second World War, Richard J R Mann and Gordon H Young.

Record Details for Cyril Sheldon Allen

First Names:Cyril Sheldon
Initials:C. S.
Birthplace:Normanby, N Lincs
Death Date:
Service Number:200195
Service:British Army
Regiment:Tank Corps
Battalion:A Battalion
Commemorated:Cambrai Memorial, Louverval - Panel 13 Map


Use the interactive map to view the location of Cyril Sheldon Allen's Memorial. You can view all the graves, memorials and benches by downloading our KML file which can be viewed in Google Earth and other mapping software.

Remembered with Honour.

Last updated

© 2018 Burton upon Stather Heritage Group