Lionel was the second surviving son of Edward Launcelot Baugh Allen and his wife Blanche Isabella Adelaide née Wale. The family doesn’t feature in the UK censuses before 1901 when Lionel and his older brother Edward, aged 4 and 6, were with their mother in Pembrokeshire; their father was at his club in London. That census lists Lionel as born in China but his birth was registered in Paphos Cyprus in the Consular/Overseas list at the general register Office.
Their paternal grandfather and great grandfather had been clergymen, but father Edward was a merchant who took up a diplomatic career. When the boys were born he was a consul at Pakhoi (now Beihai), regarded as a hardship posting. One description refers to the neighbouring Mercy Hospital, adding it was probably used by the staff as it was rare “to find consular officials who did not go mad or become depressed during their posting at this isolated treaty port.” Blanche seems to have been affected by their situation probably exacerbated by the fact that her third son died there in infancy. She died on 7th September 1907 at the age of 46. For a detailed description of the family background please refer to the commemoration of Edward Arnold Frederick Allen who died of his wounds on the Somme in November 1916.
Edward had arrived at Bedales in September 1907, just after his mother’s death. I don’t know who was looking after ten year old Lionel (perhaps he was at a prep school), but he didn’t come to Steep until after Easter 1909 when aged twelve, he would have been old enough to start in the Senior School. It is very difficult to trace his school career as there were several boys with the surname Allen at around this time but I think he appears in a few lists as Allen ii. Unfortunately, The Chronicle doesn’t use forenames in the Prize and Sports lists so it is difficult to be sure whether he was the Allen who was awarded 9 stars in the Spring Term of 1910.
Both the Allen boys were at School in Steep on census day 1911, Edward had left before Easter 1912 but there is also a confusing discrepancy about when Lionel left Bedales. The Bedales Roll dates his last term as the Summer Term of 1912 but, in The Bedales Record for 1912-13, L. Allen ma. is listed for the Summer term 1913. (There is an unrelated Desmond Allen at Bedales that term and he appears as D. Allen mi. in the School List.) Lionel could be the Allen i who came second in the quarter mile in the Sports in October 1912 and was in Carsen’s Squad in the Fire Brigade in November and “a gentle Lion” in the Christmas production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is also an Allen who, with George Edwards, was keeping fish in an aquarium under the auspices of Bedales Field Club in the Spring term of 1913. Summer 1913 would be his final term if this is correct and Allen i was made a House Prefect – a distinction often awarded to Bedalians at the end of their school career.
I have found no record of Lionel taking examinations but at the outbreak of war in 1914 he was in the Cambridge OTC. in February 1915 The Bedales Chronicle reported he was in the Cambridge OTC and the following month that he had been commissioned. In July they knew he had been commission 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion of the South Wales Borderers. Sadly, a computer glitch seems to have removed the details of Lionel’s file at the National Archives from my laptop so the sole evidence I have for his military career comes in the brief summary in The Bedales Record for 1918-1919. He was wounded in France on 3rd June 1916 (at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme). In February 1917 he was commissioned a full Lieutenant (the record implies at this time he was on Home Service) and was again in France in January 1918 with the Machine Gun Corps and it was serving there that he was killed on 27th March 1918. Like the other Bedalian victims of the German Spring Offensive his body was not recovered and he is commemorated on Panel 37 of the Pozieres Memorial. He is the only OB who seems to have been overlooked by Mr Badley and he does not appear in his “In Memoriam” tributes for either 1917-1918 or 1918-1919 but his name does appear in Bay 1 of the Bedales Memorial Library alongside his brother. After my next visit to The National Archives I hope to be able to expand this brief commemoration.