Indigenous Australian, Allan MASON, 25th Infantry Battalion
Allan MASON was the first of three brothers to volunteer to serve with the first AIF, in June 1915, he would be followed by his brothers Leslie and John the same year.
Born to Thomas Mason and Rosanna ‘Rosa’ Owens in Walcha, NSW, his grandmother Maria Matthews was a Kamilaroi woman.
Allan began his training at Enoggera, just outside Brisbane where he was assigned to the 3rd Reinforcements for the 25th Infantry Battalion. He left Australia aboard the troopship Kyarra in September bound for the Middle East.
During the voyage he was charged with insubordination and disobeying standing orders, for smoking between decks, for his misdemeanor he was given extra duties for 24 hours.
Allan arrived on the shores of Gallipoli in October 1915 and remained with his battalion when Allied troops were withdrawn from the peninsula in December. While they were encamped on the island of Lemnos Allan fell ill to the highly contagious strain of Influenza that was effecting many of the troops.
The most serious cases were evacuated to hospital in Cairo, where he spent two weeks recovering before rejoining his comrades at their camp at Zeitoun. The 25th was mustered to proceed to France and were the first Australian battalion to arrive in Marseilles, where they then travelled by train from the port to northern France.
During July 1916 the 25th Battalion was engaged in operations at Pozieres where they came under heavy fire from field artillery and trench mortar bombs.
Allan Mason was one of 175 men to be reported missing on 30th July. Later enquiries made by the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau concluded that indeed he had been killed.
Sergeant Auchterlonie of C Company 25th Battalion reported that he had seen Mason’s body, and that he had most likely died from concussion caused by high explosive shelling.
At the end of the war there were many thousands of soldiers who were known to have died but for whom there is no known grave-site. Private Allan Mason is commemorated at the Australian Memorial Villers Bretonneux, Northern France.
It is unclear exactly what happened to Allan Mason’s service medals. His service record indicates that the commemorative memorial plaque and scroll were received by his eldest surviving brother Thomas, after it was established that his father had passed away in 1919 and his mother prior to the war. However although the three service medals – 1914-15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal, were issued, the last is recorded ‘returned unclaimed’ in 1923.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: MASON, Allan
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 3rd Reinf. 25th Infantry Battalion
- Red Cross Wounded and Missing file
- Roll of honour
- Unit war diaries: 25th Infantry Battalion
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- View the whole Collection: Indigenous enlistment
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen Digital Story and Oral History
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland