The ALLEN family – Private ALLEN, Richard Oswald (1877-1916)

Richard Oswald Allen, known as “Dick”, was born in Leicester on 16th April 1877.  He was the eldest son of a brewer and beer retailer (later a mineral water manufacturer), Richard Charles Allen (1852-1918), and Lucile Garthwaite (1850-1929), who married at St Martin’s on 4th July 1876.  He was baptised at St Martin’s on 23rd May 1877 whilst the family lived at 74 King Richard’s Road.  Brothers Percy and Shirley were baptised together on 6th June 1884.  Dick, his parents, Shirley (1883-1965) and Percy (1884-1960) lived at Humberstone Road in 1881-84 and at Stanley Villas, 29 Evington Road by 1889.

Wyggeston Boys School
Wyggeston Boys’ School

Dick attended Wyggeston Boys’ School, leaving at the end of the summer term of 1892.  By 1901 Dick had moved to London and was working as an artist and painter.  On 22nd June 1904 he married Stella Stretton Swain (1879-1949) at Quorn Parish Church and together they had children Lucille Mary (1909-1996) and Frank (1915-1999).  Richard’s parents continued to worship at St Martin’s.  Mrs Allen subscribed to every church and charitable fund and was involved with the annual fundraising tea.

Allen - 29 Evington Road - 1891
29 Evington Road, where the Allen family lived c.1889

Meanwhile Dick and his family lived at Hampstead between 1911 and the outbreak of war, with Richard working as a poster artist.  Richard joined the 16th Service Battalion, Middlesex Regiment at Woldingham, aged 38 in February 1915 whilst Stella was pregnant with their son.  He landed in France in November 1915.  Meanwhile, Stella and the children removed to Leicester, presumably to be supported by Richard’s family, where Frank was born.  They lived at 25 Fosse Road Central until at least 1931.

Allen 25 Fosse Road Central
25 Fosse Road Central. Stella and the children lived here from 1915 until at least 1931.

Richard was fatally wounded whilst binding the arm of a comrade on 1st July 1916, at the first battle of the Somme, and his body was never found.  A pension was later awarded to Stella, which must have been essential as Richard left just £150 for his family.  He is commemorated at Thiepval, Somme.  Almost exactly two years later, Richard’s father died.  He was buried at St Peter’s, Braunstone, on 11th July 1918.  Mother Lucile lived at Bradda, Letchworth Road from 1921 and until her death in 1929.

Richard’s brothers don’t seem to have enlisted.  It appears that Percy took over his father’s minerals and aerated water company and married Rosa Ethel Billings at St Martin’s in February 1907.  Percy and Rosa were both very involved in the life of St Martin’s church – Percy had been a sidesman since 1906 and served as churchwarden from 1918-21.  He became one of the first Lay Canons in 1922 and served on the PCC throughout the transition from parish church to Leicester Cathedral.

Richard and Stella’s daughter Lucille worked as a teacher and in 1937 married Cedric Arthur Bethham Robinson (1904-1941) in Bombay, India.  Cedric was the son of a leather agent and had grown up at 34 Westleigh Road, Leicester.  He was joint general manager of Planter’s Stores and Agency Co. Ltd, a business which recruited labour for tea plantations.  Lucille and Cedric lived together at 7 Burdwan Road, Alipore, Calcutta until Cedric died in a falling accident in November 1941.  Lucille returned to England and eventually died, a widow, in Leicestershire in 1996.

Wife Stella also remained a widow, living firstly in Letchworth Road (at ‘Bradda’), the former home of her in-laws, then at 73 Westcotes Drive, then again at Letchworth Road.  She died in on 7th February 1949 having lived at 79 Letchworth Road for a few years.


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