More than 1,200 sailors turned out to pay their last respects
to Evan Allan, Navys last World War I veteran, at
a state funeral held for him at HMAS Cerberus last month.
LSPH Gavin Hainsworth
The last Navy World War I veteran has finally been laid to rest.
Mr Evan Allan, died aged 106, and was farewelled with a state
funeral at Saint Marks
Chapel at HMAS Cerberus on October 25.
More than 200 VIPs including the Deputy Chief of Navy and 1,200
sailors turned out to pay their respects to Mr Allan, who was
Australias last direct link to two world wars and the generation
that forged the proud tradition of Anzac.
DCN RADM Max Hancock told Navy News that Mr Allans death
was significant not only for the Navy but the entire country because
he takes with him a piece of our history.
We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Mr Allan and the
generation of Australians who forged the Anzac tradition with
their blood, sweat and tears in war, he said.
CDRE Jim Dickson (Rtd) delivered the eulogy and said Mr Allans
death was a milestone of great symbolic importance to all Australians.
The Last Post has sounded for the last Australian and Navy
man to fight in WWI, the conflict that helped forge an infant
nations identity, he said.
Farewell Evan Allan, father, grandfather, sailor, friend.
May you rest in peace, secure in the knowledge that you have the
admiration, affection, respect of the people of the country you
served so long, so proudly and so well.
The Navy farewelled the last sailor to fight in both world wars
with a funeral befitting an Admiral of the Fleet.
After the service, a party of 24 sailors fired a three-volley
salute from their Steyr rifles as Mr Allans flag-draped
coffin was walk-marched from the chapel.
It was then placed on a naval 12-pound gun-carriage for his last
journey through Cerberus, where decades earlier he had taught
seamanship as an instructor.
Officers led the funeral procession with swords reversed, while
some 500 sailors stood at attention. As the Navy Band playing
a funeral song, the gun-carriage was led to the hearse that would
take the coffin to the crematorium.
SMN Tanya Steward, 28, of HMAS Cerberus, summed up the sorrow
of the sailors in the funeral procession saying today the
nation has lost someone who gave us our proud tradition of the
fighting spirit of Anzac.
RESPECTS: Sailors carry the coffin ouside the Cerberus chapel.
PHOTO: ABPH Nina Nikolin.
Evan Crawford Allan was born on July 24, 1899 at Bega in NSW.
His grandfather was one of the original settlers in the Bega region
and as a child, Evan was brought up on a family property in nearby
Encounter in August 1918 for passage to the United Kingdom in the
transport ship Barambah. During the voyage there was an outbreak
of Spanish Influenza which led to a significant number of deaths.
He then joined the cruiser HMAS Sydney in Scotland one week after
the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet. Sydney returned to
Australia in July 1919 after a long passage from England via the
He highlighted the 1908 visit of the American Great White Fleet
as influencing his desire to join the Royal Australian Navy. This
ambition was realised March 13, 1914 when Evan enlisted as a 14-year-old
Boy Second Class and began his naval career in the boys
training ship HMAS Tingira.
In July, 1915, he joined the light cruiser HMAS Encounter, which
shortly thereafter sailed on a four-month patrol of the South
West Pacific, where Fiji was utilised as a base for operations.
He then saw further active service overseas in the Malay archipelago
from late 1915 to early 1916; in the South West Pacific between
September and December 1917, when Encounter joined the search
for the German raider Wolf; and two voyages to Colombo on convoy
He then drafted to HMAS Brisbane in September 1919 and served in
the cruiser for three years. The period was typical of peacetime
service, but it was significant for Evans professional development.
He was promoted to Leading Seaman in November 1919 and then to Petty
Officer in June 1922; qualified as a Seaman Torpedoman; and volunteered
to join the RANs submarine service in September 1921. He also
ran a popular side business developing photographs, taken with his
own camera, and printing them on to postcards for sale to his shipmates.
Brisbane decommissioned on August 4, 1922 and her crew commissioned
the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide the following day where Evan spent
almost four years, including her 1924 attachment to the RNs
Special Service Squadron. It was in Vancouver in July 1924, that
Evan was introduced to Miss Ida Gwendolyn Wright, whom he would
marry some 17 years later.
He returned to Tingira in June 1926 for instructional duties until
the boys training ship decommissioned in June 1927. A short stint
in HMAS Penguin (ex Encounter) preceded service in HMAS Melbourne,
on her decommissioning cruise to England.
Melbourne decommissioned at Portsmouth on April 23, 1928 and her
crew transferred to the newly built heavy cruiser HMAS Australia
which commissioned the following day. The cruiser departed Portsmouth
in August 1928 for Australia via the Americas and the Pacific.
Evan Allan attached to the training ship HMAS Tingira.
Photo courtesy of the Blake family.
August 6, 1928, Australia was in the North Atlantic en route to
Montreal when Evan was swept overboard with heavy seas running
in force eight winds. He and several other crew were attempting
to recover the starboard breakwater door which was adrift on the
forecastle. He suffered from shock caused by immersion and contusions
to one leg, the latter the result of the heavy seas bumping his
body against the cruisers hull when he was hauled back onboard.
In 1929 he was drafted to Sydney to join the depot and accommodation
ship HMAS Penguin (ex HMAS Platypus). Evan was promoted to Chief
Petty Officer in April 1932 and returned to sea in 1933 when he
served firstly in the seaplane carrier HMAS Albatross and then
commissioned the Scott Class Flotilla Leader HMAS Stuart.
This was followed by more than two years service in the Flagship
His colourful careeer continued when, in 1937, Evan was honoured
as one of a select group of 25 senior sailors chosen as the naval
detachment of the Australian Coronation Contingent that embarked
in the SS Oronsay in February 1937 for passage to England to attend
the coronation of King George VI.
After the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted to the armed
merchant cruiser HMS Moreton Bay and active service on the China
Station, the East Indies Station and then in the South Atlantic
on patrol and convoy escort duties. Moreton Bay decommissioned
in August 1941 and arrangements were made to return her Australian
crew via the United States and Canada. This provided the opportunity
for Evan to re-establish contact with Gwen in Vancouver, Canada,
where they promptly married.
Evan was promoted from the lower deck in July 1942. In July 1944
Evan was posted to HMAS Ladava, the RAN depot at Milne Bay in
New Guinea, for service as the Piermaster.
From Ladava, Evan was appointed again to the cruiser Australia
as the ships boatswain, replacing Boatswain Cyril Deighton
who had been injured in the Japanese Kamikaze attacks at Leyte
Evan was flown to Seeadler Harbour but missed his connection with
Australia by only a matter of hours, the ship having already sailed
for operations at Lingayen Gulf. In a twist of fate, Sub Lieutenant
Keith Levy, who performed the duties of boatswain during Evans
absence, was killed in action when Australia was struck by another
Kamikaze plane on January 5, 1945.
Evan retired from the Navy in 1947, after serving the nation for
more than 33 years. He is survived by his daughter, Judith Blake,
son-in-law and two grandchildren.
would like to express my appreciation to Judith for her generous
assistance in researching her fathers service history.