John L. Allen

Tower 1929 - 1933

Old Lawrentian and Battle of Britain fighter ace, Flying Officer John Allen

John Laurance Allen joined the RAF in June 1937 from St Lawrence College. He went to 8 FTS Montrose on 21 August. He was on a training flight on 18 January 1938 when he disappeared in fog over Forfarshire. Search parties failed to find him. Early the next morning an RAF search plane spotted wreckage on Glen Dye moor, Kincardineshire.

Beside the wreck was a rescue party laying down and spelling out the word ALIVE. An ambulance plane picked up Allen, badly injured. After a long stay in hospital he finished his training and joined 54 Squadron at Hornchurch on 5 December 1938.

On 21 May 1940 between Dunkirk and Calais Allen probably destroyed a Ju88, 54 Squadron's first victory. Two days later he and Alan Deere escorted S/Ldr. J Leathart in a Miles Master to Calais-Marck airfield to pick up the CO of 74 Squadron who was stranded there. Twelve Me109’s attacked the Master but were engaged by Allen and Deere, who between them shot three down and badly damaged three more. Allen destroyed one and damaged two others.

On 24 May Allen shot down a Me109 in the Calais area, and on the next day destroyed two Me110's. On 26 May he was credited with another Me110 as a probable. In the last engagement his engine was hit by a cannon shell and he baled out over the Channel near a destroyer. He returned to the squadron that evening dressed in a naval officer's uniform and carrying a kitbag.

On the 27 May he shared a Ju88 over Dunkirk.

Allen was awarded the DFC (gazetted 11 June 1940) and received it from the King (below) in a ceremony at Hornchurch on 27 June in company with Deere and Leathart, who were awarded the DFC and DSO respectively.

John Allen photo                    54 Squadron photo 54 Squadron

Sgt. JK Norwell, F/O DAP McMullen, F/O CF Gray, F/Sgt. PH Tew
P/O JL Allen, F/O AC Deere, F/Lt. JA Leathart, F/O BH Way, F/O DG Gribble


 Allen destroyed a Ju88 on 17 June and shared in destroying a He59 on 9 July.

His engine was damaged in a combat with Me109’s, including a section led by Luftwaffe fighter ace, Adolf Galland, over Margate on 24 July 1940. John Allen’s Spitfire stalled while trying to reach Manston. He was then seen making for Foreness in a controlled descent with a dead engine, which suddenly restarted, causing him to again make for Manston.

The engine stopped again and trying to turn for Foreness a second time he stalled and spun in and was killed when his Spitfire, R6812, crashed and burned out near the Old Charles Inn at Cliftonville.

Allen was 24.

He is buried in Margate Cemetery, Kent.

(Text and images from The Battle of Britain London Monument, The Battle of Britain archive 2007 – ‘Airmen’s stories – F/O JL Allen’)

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