172389 Pte. Charles Norman Allen, was born on May 25th, 1893, in Buffalo, New York, USA.

A resident of Kings Street East in Toronto at the time of signing on, Charles attested in to the 83rd (Queen's Own Rifles) Battalion on December 6th, 1915.

The 83rd Battalion supplied 241 men to the 4th CMR in June and July of 1916, to build up the 4th CMR after their huge losses on June 2nd, 1916, in the "Battle for Mount Sorrel".

With the 4th CMR back in the front line at Bouzincourt [north-west of Albert, France] on September 20th, 1916, Charles was subsequently wounded whilst holding the line on the 23rd. Being returned to the UK for hospital treatment in Cardiff, Wales, the event clearly moved Charles, as he wrote a poem about the experience, which was subsequently written up in an autograph book belonging to his nurse, Ethel Paskell:

It ain't a blooming clipper

An' its decks not blooming large

It ain't a turbined ripper

Well, in fact it's just a barge

But tho' I'm thin and whitey

An' I try to walk in vain,

I am 'appy, Lordamighty

In my little flannel nighty

For I'm floating 'ome to Blighty

Down the glorious River Seine.

They are watching in the slushy

Squelchy trenches facin' Loos,

While I'm propped nice and cushy

In my first saloon caboose.

Up the line lads are cheering

I shall ne'er join them again.

Up the line the shrapnel tearing

Up the line the Sergeant's swearing

But I'm floating out of hearing

Down the glorious River Seine.

'Twill be precious hard to stick it

When I get me civvy's kit

An' they 'ands me out my ticket

As a "medical unfit"

When I'm landed safe at Dover

An' they put me in a train,

There'll be solace for a rover

Though me fighting days is over,

I was ferried 'ome in clover

Down the glorious River Seine.

Whilst Charles' service history from this point is not known, he was finally struck off 4th CMR strength early in February 1918.

Credit and many thanks go to Terry House for providing a scan and transcript of Charles' poem, gleaned from Nurse Ethel Paskell's autograph book.

Ethel, Terry House's relative, worked at both the King Edward VII Hospital and the Sanitorium, both in Cardiff. The autograph book holds many and varied inscriptions, including an entry from a French soldier.