Sixteen-Year-Old Pelhamite Nicknamed "The Kid" Received the French Croix de Guerre for Bravery Twice
Home Page of the Historic Pelham Blog.
Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."
This year marks the centennial of the entry of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917. Thus, today's Historic Pelham article is the next in a series of articles intended to document Pelham's role in World War I. At the end of today's article is a list of previous articles concerning Pelham and World War I, with links.
* * * * *
The three were mere boys, doing men's work. Julian Broome Livingston Allen of Pelham Manor, sixteen-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Hobbes Allen of The Priory, was one of them. Another was nineteen-year-old John Verplanck Newlin of Whitford, Pennsylvania. The three were ambulance operators on the Front in France on that fateful day, August 3, 1917. They were members of the 29th Section of the American Ambulance Corps.
The men of the 29th Section knew the routine. They drove ambulances within sight of, and under fire from, the enemy. Like their fighting counterparts, they had seen and heard so many German shells that they were proficient in judging the imminence of danger from the screeching pitch and crescendo of falling German artillery shells. Almost intuitively, when the screeching pitch and the crescendo they heard together were just right, they knew to flop flat to the ground and cover before the impending explosion. French troops, it was said, were bemused by the habit of English and Americans who often refused to flop flat to the ground, choosing instead to inspire others with their bravery as shells exploded around them.
On August 3, 1917, the three young boys stepped outside of their abri, a form of dugout shelter used by troops to shield themselves from artillery shells and other dangers. They were near Montzéville, a small village in northeast France. They stood in a group near two of the Section 29 ambulances, though they should not have been outside the abri. At that moment, the screeching pitch and the crescendo they heard together were just right. They knew to flop flat to the ground. One did. Julian Allen and John Newlin, however, didn't. According to one report, Julian Allen, the sixteen-year-old Chief of the unit, chose to inspire and stood tall. His comrade John Newlin admired his bravery and chose to follow his lead.
The artillery shell explosion was massive. It destroyed two ambulances, leaving masses of mangled metal. It sprayed shrapnel in every direction. The ambulance driver flat on the ground was unscathed -- unaffected by the explosion and the shrapnel. Julian Allen of Pelham Manor and John Newlin, however, were not so lucky. Shrapnel flew into and pierced one of Julian Allen's knees. Newlin likewise was hit by shrapnel, in his back.
At first Allen's wound did not seem dangerous. In contrast, there never was any question that Newlin's injury was life threatening. Allen and Newlin were rushed to the hospital at Fleury.
At noon on August 5th, Julian Allen was evacuated to a Paris hospital. According to one account:
"Newlin's condition was critical. He was so weak that he could not be operated upon until the evening of the 4th. The operation was apparently successful and he showed signs of such great improvement that the French Commander of the Section, Lieutenant Latruffe, with four of the fellows, called on him on the afternoon of August 5 to present him with his Croix de Guerre and the Division citation."
The optimism over Newlin's condition was misplaced. By late that night, "poor Jack was dead."
Julian Allen recuperated and returned. Indeed, twice he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre, once for heroism in 1916 (see below) and the second time for his bravery at the time of his wounding on August 3, 1917. Created in 1915, the Croix de Guerre was awarded both to individuals and units who distinguished themselves "by acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy." Frequently, the medal was awarded to those who were "'mentioned in dispatches,' meaning a heroic deed or deeds were performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit." See "Croix de Guerre" in Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia (visited Jan. 22, 2017).
The Allen Family of The Priory was one of the most celebrated families of Pelham Manor during the first three decades of the early 20th century. In future articles to commemorate the centennial of World War I and Pelham's role, the Allen family repeatedly will be a focus.
Julian Allen was born April 8, 1900 in The Priory at Pelham Manor. Soon he grew into the body of a strong, fit, strapping, athletic, and well-built teenager. At the age of fifteen, Julian Allen joined Section 29 of the American Ambulance Corps in France. According to a member of that Corps and to Allen's obituary, Julian "was only fifteen when he joined us. In applying he stretched his age to seventeen, and, as he looked at least twenty, he was readily accepted." In reality, the nation of France was struggling for its existence which, at the time, was in doubt. France accepted all comers.
Looking for heroes, propaganda, and successes early in the War, the national print media soon found Julian Allen of Pelham Manor (guided, it seems most certain, by Julian's successful father, Frederick Hobbes Allen). Only a few months after Julian Allen became an ambulance driver at the front, he was cited for bravery and received, thereafter, his first Croix de Guerre. Julian Allen received his first citation in 1916:
"for having volunteered to transport wounded requiring urgent care from relief posts to hospitals over a route, in sight of the enemy, frequently shelled and swept by machine-gun fire -- a fine example of bravery and endurance."
Julian Allen of the Village of Pelham Manor became famous. He was touted by newspapers, magazines, and others as "The Kid." Headlines told of the war exploits of The Kid. Magazines wrote of his exploits.
At the time he left to join the ambulance corps in France in 1915, Julian Allen was attending St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. After he was badly wounded in the knee, He joined the British army in 1917 and was commissioned a lieutenant in Coldstream Guards.
After World War I, Julian Allen finished his education and joined the Bankers Trust Company in Paris. In 1933 Julian joined Morgan et Cie, a Paris firm associated with the New York banking house of J.P. Morgan & Co. (When the Paris firm was incorporated in 1945 he was named a Vice President and became Executive VP in 1952 and President in 1955, retiring in 1965.) He then became president [sic; actually, vice-president] and European representative of the securities firm of Clark Dodge & Co., Inc.
From 1942 to 1943, Julian Allen re-entered the armed services and served in the U.S. Air Force as a colonel. He made his home at Chateau de Quetteville in Normandy and at Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor, NY. Mr. Allen was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Order of the British Empire, the Legion of Honor, and the Croix de Guerre (twice decorated for World War I service). He was a vestryman of the American Cathedral in Paris and a member of the board of governors of the American Hospital.
Julian Allen's personal life seemingly was often in turmoil. On October 7, 1924, Allen married a newly-divorced actress named Eileen Kearney Dillingham. She was the second wife of New York theatre producer Charles Dillingham. The Dillinghams divorced in July, 1924. Two months later, she married Julian Allen. One year later, Julian and Eileen Kearney Allen divorced, only to remarry again.
In 1936, the couple divorced a second time in Palm Beach. One month later, Allen married Alice Harding Pell. Before and after Allen's service during World War II, he and Alice Harding Pell Allen lived in Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor and Sugar Hill Farm, Vermont, and in Paris where he was affiliated with Morgan et Cie, becoming president of the Paris bureau in 1955. The couple had two children: Mary Elizabeth (who became the Countess de Lurot) and Frederick H.S. Allen. Julian Allen died in Paris on October 22, 1967.
"This Sixteen-Year-Old Wins Honor in France
Julian Allen, Son of New York Lawyer, Had Early Training of Hero Making Sort
FRANCE has cited for bravery a New York boy of 16, who has been driving an ambulance at the front. He is Julian Broome Livingston Allen, son of Frederick H. Allen, a lawyer of this city, who brought him up on a Spartan plan.
'Learn to do things for yourself,' was the principle which ruled the family of two boys and three girls. Julian Allen learned to act and think for himself when he was a little boy. A picture reproduced here shows him at the age of 5 riding his pony up at Pelham Manor, where is situated the country home of the Allens, Bolton Priory. He was inured early to the athletic life. It was not unusual for Mr. Allen and his five children to be up at dawn for a canter over the roads. The boys were proficient in all kinds of sports before they were in their teens.
When Julian was 12 he was sent out to visit an aunt at Colorado Springs. He went all by himself and without even being commended to the good offices of the conductor. When he arrived he had the air of an experienced traveller.
Another influence for efficiency in the bringing up of the young ambulance driver was St. Paul's School, Concord, N. H. It was out of a military encampment intended originally for students of St. Paul's that there developed the junior training camps which were held at Plum Island last summer under the direction of officers of the United States army.
Julian was too young to carry a rifle when the European war began but from the first he would have liked to enlist. His older brother, Frederick S. Allen, who has since returned to Harvard University, joined the ambulance service. At the age of 14 Julian had become a capable chauffeur. He had a small runabout which he could take apart and put together.
He finally managed to get into the French ambulance service, although he was then barely 15. He has now been wounded at the front for more than a year. His fellow ambulance drivers call him 'The Kid.' The sobriquet fits his age, but not his appearance, for he is 5 feet 9 inches in height and weighs 135 pounds. He is as hard as nails and as supple as wire and has the nerve of a grenadier.
His letters home are filled with the stir and action of the great events in which he is living. He speaks French fluently and his letters bristle with soldier slang and with the terse speech of his native land.
'We have been very busy,' he begins one of his letters. 'I have had one night's sleep out of the last four and to-night I must work again. This is poste de secours work, and all that we have seen before is child's play compared to this.
'The roads here are awful. Shell holes make them nearly impassable. Fortunately we have the moon to give us some light. We go through the villages, which are continually shelled, and it is not very pleasant. French batteries are right beside the road, and last night during a tir de barrage it was awful. The air was red with shells and the air filled with their whistle and roar.
'The boches, thank heavens, were to busy shelling the trenches to pay any attention to the roads. However, they sent a few gas shells into B----. The smell was awful. However, we got through without having to use our masks. Two big 150 shells fell about fifteen yards from us, but they fell on soft ground in a field and did no harm.'
Here are some glimpses of the life the boy has been leading as given in another letter:
'I am de piquet for twenty-four hours in this God forsaken village. The dust is covering the roads. For five days now it has not rained and the mud turned to dust. From time to time a shell comes whistling and roaring into homes, already damaged, that line the main road. Flies are everywhere, a black, buzzing mass that sets you crazy, now lighting on your hands and now on your face. The car is covered with them. They are maddening!
'My hands are disgusting. There is no water to be had. Gasolene is more cleansing. I spent the other night in the depths of an abri [dugout or shelter] that smelt of all the disgusting things one could imagine. Beside me a man was snoring loudly; on a bench a malade was coughing steadily. In a corner a blesse was lying on a stretcher, groaning in his tortures. From time to time a brancardier tried to comfort him.
'Outside the steady rumble of passing wagons was heard, then the roar and crash of a shell, the frightened gallop of the horses, the cries of the drivers and cracking of whips! Then all was quiet but for the coughs and the moans and the snores and I fell asleep.'
Here is the light hearted way in which he speaks of the narrow escape he had from death:
'Monday night we went to Marre. On the road up we were fired upon by mitraileuses. Friday night I went up to Marre again. They put several shrapnel shells into the village. One landing just across the street, an eclat, hit my helmet and shrapnel balls fell about us.'
'New birds are beginning to come in,' he writes again. 'Sunday night I went up the hill [Le Mort Homme] about midnight. Four of us were outside the abri when suddenly a shell roared in and fell twenty yards distant. Naturally we ducked and fortunately we did. Even so we were struck by falling stones and dirt. I was hit in the neck -- just scratched. For two hours the boches shelled the poste and you may be sure we were in the abri.'
He describes in detail the dressing or relief station to which he and his comrades were bringing the wounded. He traversed shell torn highways and forded streams in his car.
'When I finally did reach the posts,' he goes on, 'I was greeted by four shells landing on all sides of me, none more than fifty yards away and one within ten yards. It was impossible to return on the same road with my blesse. I found that there was a mule path through the fields. I could use that and did. I did it without too much trouble and no bad shakes to my blesse. It was the first time since the French had dropped back to their present lines that any vehicle but a two wheeled mule cart had gone to the poste.'
'Life is getting more exciting,' he writes of an experience during the summer. 'We work nearly every night. The boces shell the roads a good deal. The other night a shell fell fifteen feet behind the car.'
'The road had been shelled terribly,' he wrote a few days later, 'and we were just able to get by and up to the poste. The boches were trying all afternoon to get a battery just beside the road and the road was in awful shape when we went through at midnight.
'We started back, but several revitaillement wagons had fallen into the holes and our road was blocked. We telephoned to have other cars come up to the Calvaire, which was five hundred yards away.
'Two of our cars ran back and forward from the posts and we had to carry our men five hundred yards to the other cars. I can assure you that it was no fun to carry a stretcher over a shell torn road and in mud several inches deep. I thought that my arms would fall off when finally all the blesses were transported.
'We hid our cars as best we could behind a hill where the road had been cleared we went back.'
Writing under date of September 26 young Allen tells of the coming of the autumn rains.
'It poured down in torrents,' he says, 'and the roads were rivers of mud and water. In places at our posts especially we had to walk in mud above our knees. For the last five days a thick mud has covered both me and my car.'
Throughout the letters appears the ardor of youth. There is a total absence of thought for self as he goes on his errands of mercy along the shell torn roads and the battlefields.
In the official army order in which he is cited Julian Allen is praised for 'having volunteered to transport wounded requiring urgent care from relief posts to hospitals over a route in sight of the enemy, frequently shelled and swept by machine gun fire, a fine example of bravery and endurance.'
In view of what the lad has done his father thinks it is time that he returned to his own country. Julian was in the fourth form at St. Paul's when he went abroad. His family want him to come back now and begin work under a tutor so that he will be able to enter Harvard next fall. So application has been duly made for his discharge, and they hope to see him back by Christmas Day.
His sisters made their debut at a dance at Sherry's given on the night of the day on which the newspapers printed the cable dispatch telling of the honor which had come to their brother at the front."
Source: This Sixteen-Year-Old Wins Honor in France -- Julian Allen, Son of New York Lawyer, Had Early Training of Hero Making Sort, The Sun [NY, NY], Dec. 10, 1916, Section 5 Special Feature Supplement, p. 6, cols. 6-8.
"CITES NEW YORK BOY FOR DEED OF BRAVERY
French Army Orders Praise Julian Allen, Aged 16 for Succoring Wounded Under Fire.
PARIS, Nov. 30. -- Julian Allen of New York City, a former student at St. Paul's School, is cited in army orders 'for having volunteered to transport wounded requiring urgent care from relief posts to hospitals over a route, in sight of the enemy, frequently shelled and swept by machine-gun fire -- a fine example of bravery and endurance.'
Julian Broome Livingston Allen, who is 16 years old, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Allen of Pelham Manor. His father is a member of the firm of Allen & Cammann, lawyers, formerly Secretary and Charge d'Affaires of the Hawaiian Legation, and a member of the permanent American Commission that studied agricultural finance, production, distribution, and rural life abroad.
His father said last night that he had received a cablegram telling of his son being decorated. He said that Julian entered the American Ambulance Corps. when 15 years old and had served at the front sixteen months. The boy is exceptionally large and strong for his age, and will have to study two years more before completing his course at St. Paul's School. He has been conspicuous for some time for his work under dangerous circumstances and was styled 'The Kid' in a recent magazine article telling of the work of the corps. This article spoke of him as one of the most daring of the ambulance drivers."
Source: CITES NEW YORK BOY FOR DEED OF BRAVERY -- French Army Orders Praise Julian Allen, Aged 16 for Succoring Wounded Under Fire, N.Y. Times, Dec. 1, 1916.
"NEWLIN KILLED -- ALLEN WOUNDED
ALL went well until the night of August 3,  when a '77' fell only a few feet from the entrance to our abri at Montzeville, a piece of eclat striking Julian Allen in the knee and wounding him painfully, though not seriously, while another piece hit Newlin 1 [Footnote 1 reads "1 John Verplanck Newlin, of Whitford, Pennsylvania; Princeton, '19; joined the Field Service in May, 1917; served with Section Twenty-Nine; died of wounds, received while on duty at Montzeville, on August 5, 1917."] in the back, hurting him dangerously. Newlin's and Ball's cars were smashed almost beyond recognition, and Martin and Hughes narrowly escaped being hurt. Allen and Newlin were rushed to the hospital at Fleury. The wound of the former, though more serious than we thought at first, proved to be not dangerous. At noon on August 5 he was evacuated to Paris. But Newlin's condition was critical. He was so weak that he could not be operated upon until the evening of the 4th. The operation was apparently successful and he showed signs of such great improvement that the French Commander of the Section, Lieutenant Latruffe, with four of the fellows, called on him on the afternoon of August 5 to present him with his Croix de Guerre and the Division citation. But at midnight we received word from the hospital that poor Jack was dead. It was a great shock to all of us, for he was a wonderfully brave and nervy lade and we had all grown very fond of him.
It was a blow to the Section to lose our Chef, Allen, and one of our men, after such a short time out at the front, and we had to go on as best we could without any authorized leader, though Paxton and Walker, who had been left in charge, succeeded, by dividing the work and the responsibility, in bringing us creditably through a long spell of hard, gruelling work. Later, on September 10, Fletcher, from Section Fourteen, came over to take Allen's place as Chef until the latter returned from the hospital."
Source: "Section Twenty-Nine -- THE STORY TOLD BY I. JOHN TEMPEST WALKER, JR. II. RICHARD O. BATTLES" in History of the American Field Service in France -- "Friends of France" 1914-1917 Told By Its Members With Illustrations, Vol. II, pp. 321, 324-25 (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company - The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1920).
"The French soldier became shell-wise to a remarkable degree, learning to gauge to a nicety the timbre and intensity of the screech of the approaching missile. The air might be full of such screeches -- not unlike tom-cats in the backyard. The poilu remained indifferent, apparently inattentive; then at a certain note in the fracas, a certain stridency, a certain crescendo -- down he flopped flat, whatever he might be doing or carrying. It was a more difficult art than you might think. Above all, I believe, it was his delightful lack of self-consciousness that saved many a poilu's life. English and Americans as a rule were instinctively afraid of appearing ridiculous. A striking illustration was the case of three ambulance-boys. They were standing in a group outside an abri. They ought not to have been outside, but Julian Allen, who was only nineteen and chef [i.e., chief] of his section, believed he ought to give an example of fearlessness, and his friend Newlins [sic] did what Allen did. I have forgotten who the third boy was. There came the warning screech. The third boy had the wisdom and humility to drop. Allen and Newlins scorned to. The third boy was untouched; Allen was badly wounded; Newlins was instantly killed."
Source: Fletcher, Jefferson B., "In the Ambulance Service," in The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, Vol. XXVIII, No. CIX, pp. 25, 30-31 (Sep. 1919).
"American Field Service Bulletin No 6.
August 8, 1917.
This week is the turn of Section 29 to suffer in the long list of mishaps which have occurred in the American Field Service. On the night of August 3rd. Julian Allen, Cdt. Adj. of Section 29 was at the relay post of their poste de secours. Having just received word from there that another car was immediately needed, he left the abri to give the necessary order to John V. Newlin who was waiting with his ambulance. At that moment a shell exploded smashing the car to pieces and wounding both Allen and Newlin. Allen's injuries we are glad to report are but slight and he will be evacuated to Paris in a few days. Newlin, however, sustained more serious injuries and died from their effects in a hospital at the, front on Sunday night, Aug. 5th. He came from Whitford, Pa., was a student at Princeton University, and was 19 years of age."
Source: American Field Service Bulletin No. 6, Aug. 8, 1917, p. 1.
"JULIAN ALLEN WOUNDED.
John V. Newlin, Another American Ambulance Driver, Killed.
Special to The New York Times.
NEWPORT, R. I., Aug. 7. -- Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Allen of New York, who are visiting here, received word today that their son, Julian Allen, had been wounded by a German shell while driving an ambulance in France. He was recently decorated by the French Government for bravery.
A news dispatch also reports that John V. Newlin of Whiteford, Penn., has been killed. Both men were members of Section 29 of the American Ambulance Corps. Allen's wounds are not serious."
Source: JULIAN ALLEN WOUNDED -- John V. Newlin, Another American Ambulance Driver, Killed, N.Y. Times, Aug, 8, 1917.
Julian Allen Reported Wounded.
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Allen, of the Bolton Priory this village, who are now at Newport, R. I., have received word that their son, Julian Allen bas been wounded by a German shell while driving an automobile ambulance in France. Julian Allen recently was decorated for his bravery."
Source: PELHAM MANOR -- Julian Allen Reported Wounded, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 10, 1917, p. 6, col. 2.
"Col. Julian Allen (1900-1967) joined the American Field Service in World War I and was wounded while driving an ambulance in France. In 1917 he joined the British Coldstream Guards. In the interwar period, he was a banker in Paris, joining in 1933 the French firm associated with the New York banking house of J. P. Morgan. In 1942 he entered the AAF and then served on the staff of General Spaatz in both the European and Pacific theaters. After the war he continued as a successful banker in Paris."
Source: Kohn, Richard H. & Harahan, Joseph P., eds., USAF WARRIOR STUDIES: ULTRA and the Army Air Forces in World War II -- An Interview with Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Edited with an Introduction and Essay by Diane T. Putney, p. 29, n.49 (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, 1987).
"The Service has included doctors and lawyers, architects and painters -- especially such as had been in France in their student days -- brokers and business men, even a few clergymen, and several poets and writers of distinction, such as Henry Sydnor Harrison and Emery Pottle. They have varied in age as much as in profession. The youngest volunteer we have had is Julian Allen, of New York, who was only fifteen when he joined us. In applying he stretched his age to seventeen, and, as he looked at least twenty, he was readily accepted. We have had, however, at least half a dozen who were over forty-five. In the matter of the availability for service age does not seem to count; the young men are the most eager and the most active, but also they are the most restless in periods of slack work. The influence of the older men is particularly helpful in maintaining discipline in such periods."
Source: Andrew, A. Piatt, "For Love of France" in The Outlook, Dec. 27, 1916, pp. 923 & 926.
"'The Kid's' Dad Going Over
'The Kid's' dad is going over to mix in the big fight himself. If you chance to have missed one of the most interesting stories that has come over from France since the war began, you will not know that 'The Kid' is the affectionate title given young Julian E. L. Allen, a driver in the American Ambulance Corps. He was wounded a few weeks ago, and has twice been decorated with the Croix de Guerre.
Frederick H. Allen, father of 'The Kid,' and who lives at 'The Priory,' Pelham Manor, and who is a practicing lawyer at 63 Wall street, has just received a lieutenant's commission in the United States Naval Reserve, aviation section, and will sail for France in a few days. Mr. Allen has another son, Frederick S. Allen, who is an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve aviation section, at present at Camp Borden, Canada."
Source: 'The Kid's' Dad Going Over, New Rochelle Pioneer, Sep. 15, 1917, p. 3, col. 5.
The engagement of Miss Joan Allen, daughter of Lieutenant Commander Frederick H. Allen, of the United States navy, and Mrs. Allen of the Priory, this village, to Lieutenant Goodhue Livingston, Jr., of 38 East 65th street, New York has been announced. Miss Allen and her sisters, Miss Barbara and Miss Dorothy Allen, have been active in war work in France and have been staying in the Paris home at 19 Rue Reynouard, where their parents now are. Their brother, Frederick S. Allen, is an ensign in the United States navy and Julian is a lieutenant in the United States army. Lieutenant Livingston is attached to Battery F, Second Division Artillery. He was wounded at Chateau Thierry. . . ."
Source: Pelham Manor, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 1, 1919, p. 8, col. 3.
"[Obituary of Julian Broome Livingston Allen]
* * * * *
Below is a list of previous Historic Pelham articles that touch on Pelham history during World War I. Each is followed by a citation to its source.
Mon., Jan. 02, 2017: Pelham Marches Into World War I in 1917.
Mon., Nov. 14, 2016: James Montgomery Flagg, Who Created the Iconic "I Want You" Uncle Sam, Was Born in Pelham.
Mon., May 30, 2016: The Cannon That Roared: Pelham Sacrifices a Memorial for the Nation’s Sake.
Wed., Sep. 16, 2015: Early History of The Pelham Comfort Society.
Fri., Jul. 17, 2015: 1918 Foreclosure Sale of 100 Lots On Bolton Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue in Pelham Manor.
Wed., Jan. 03, 2007: World War I Memorial Tree Plaques Honoring Pelham Citizens Who Died in World War I.
Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.
Home Page of the Historic Pelham Blog.
Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."