The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Allen, Reginald Alfred (1915 – 1939)


 
Grave Number 862

We never really know what another person thinks or feels but evidence would suggest that Reginald would have lived his life surrounded by stories of the horrors of war.

He appears to have been the only son of Alfred and Alice Mary nee Walker. He was born in the third quarter of 1915. His mother had previously been married to Charles Brewer (see his biography here) who had died in a tug-of-war incident while training with the Territorial Army in 1913. Alice had one child from that marriage which was Reginald’s half-brother. His father was brought up in Bridge Street and worked as a bricklayer’s labourer.

Reginald would have been too young to remember the First World War. He lived in Bridge Street, a small street that lost four men to the horrors of 1914-18. These included Alfred Brewer, his mother’s brother-in-law from her first marriage, who was gassed, shot and eventually died in the battle of the Somme. Also, his father’s younger brother William, who had an horrific war. He signed up in 1914 aged 19, was shot, gassed on two separate occasions, suffered illness due to trench life. Near the end of the war he was wounded and taken prisoner where he died three months later, a month before the Armistice. Reginald may just have remembered the Peace Day celebrations in 1919 when the demobilised men were treated to a special meal in the mess room at the end of Bridge street. His father could well have been one of those returning soldiers (1).

Reginald’s mother died of TB in 1925 and his father died, aged 44, in 1930. By the age of 15 he was an orphan. When war broke out, in 1939, he joined the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire regiment as Private 5988843 (2). On the morning of 20th November 1939 his body was found hanging from a tree in Haughley, Suffolk. At the inquest a Mrs Hunnibell stated that he had knocked on her door at 06.50 a.m. asking for a cup of tea. She had asked him to come back in a few moments but he never returned. A sergeant gave evidence that Reginald had been “quite bright until Sunday morning but thought Allen had something on his mind”. A verdict that he took his life while the balance of his mind was disturbed was recorded (3). We will never know what drove Reginald to such a fate, his address was given as 2 Bridge Street where his Grandmother, aged 82, and his Aunt lived. They had the words “DEEP IN OUR HEARTS FOND MEMORIES ARE SET OF THE ONE WE LOVED AND SHALL NEVER FORGET” added to his headstone.

  1. Absent voters list for 1918, 3922 Pte Inn of Court OTC 19 Bridge Street. Voters roles for 1920’s show him at 19 Bridge Street
  2. The 2nd Battalion was formed around the core of 1 and 2 companies of the 1st Battalion. It joined 162nd Infantry Brigade of the 54th (East Anglian) Division alongside the 1st Battalion and was employed in anti-invasion duties until the end of 1942.
  3. Diss Express 24 Nov 1939

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