Henry Walter McAllen


Date of birth: 1894
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: Not known
Rank: 2nd Assistant Cook
Service: Mercantile Marine
Vessel: HMHS Glenart Castle
Died: 26th February 1918 aged 24 years
Death location: At sea


Life before the War
Henry was known as Harry in most of the records.  His father was Daniel Courtis who was born on 27th February 1853 in Jersey and died in 1920. His mother, Emma Jane, nee Pearcey, was born in 1858, dying in 1924.  Daniel and Emma married on 1st December 1873.

Henry was the 8th of 12 children and his parents lost 3 of their sons to the Great War, all of them at sea.

His siblings – 4 sisters and 7 brothers – were:

Ada Theresa   b.1875.  Married George Russell 1900.

Emily Edith   b.1878.  Married Frank Laurence 1900.

William Courtis   b.1879 and d.1880.

George Daniel   b.1881 and died 8th April 1915 (war casualty).  Married Jessie Maria Cull 1902.

Ethel Louisa   b.1883 and d.1958.  Married John Stark 1912.

Thomas Wilfred   b.1889 and d.1957.  Married Elizabeth Haskell 1913.

Nellie Mahala   born 30th August 1891 and died on 28th April 1977.
Married first to Arthur George Dixey in 1912, then Walter Greenaway in 1940.

Sidney   b.1896 and died 27th June 1918 (war casualty).

John   b.1898 and d.1898.

Ronald Frank   b.1901 and d.1942.  Married Blanche Maud Morris in 1927.

Oswald Cortis   b.1903 and d.1960.  Married Stella Ivy Dear in 1926.

In 1901 the family lived at 24, Dukes Road, Portswood, Southampton.  Daniel was employed as a Ships Fireman on the Seas and George was an Ordinary Seaman.

The family had moved to 37 Oaktree Road, Bitterne Park, Southampton by 1911.  Daniel was away at sea when the return was taken. Both Ethel and Nellie were employed by the Ordnance Survey Office as Map Folder.  Henry was an Errand Boy, but at the time was unemployed.

George Daniel was a Merchant Seaman who died aboard the SS Guernsey on 8th April 1915.
To read more of George’s story please select the link to his name.

Sidney is Remembered with Honour on the Mercantile Marine Memorial which reads:
“McAllen, Asst. Std. Sidney. H.M.H.S. “Llandovery Castle” (London). Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 27th June, 1918. Age 21. Son of Daniel Courtis McAllen and Emma Jane McAllen, of 37, Oaktree Rd., Bitterne Park, Southampton”
To read more of Sidney’s story please select the link to his name.


Henry’s War Servicetower hill memorialx2
Both Henry and his brother  Sidney are Remembered with Honour on the Mercantile Memorial, Tower Hill in London.  The Tower Hill Memorial commemorates men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died in both World Wars and who have no known grave.
It stands on the south side of the garden of Trinity Square, London, close to The Tower of London.

The Memorial reads:

“McAllen, 2nd Asst. Ck. Henry Walter. H.M.H.S. “Glenart Castle” (Southampton). Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 26th Feb, 1918. Age 24. Son of Daniel Courtis McAllen and Emma Jane McAllen, of 37, Oak Tree Road, Bitterne Park, Southampton”

He is also remembered on the Southampton Cenotaph and Memorial Wall, as well the Jersey Memorial.


Historical Information – HMHS Glenart Castle
On 26 February 1918 the Glenart Castle was returning to the UK. Fishermen in the English Channel saw her clearly lit up as a hospital ship. John Hill — a fisherman on Swansea Castle — remembered “I saw the Hospital Ship with green lights all around her – around the saloon. She had her red side lights showing and mast-head light, and also another red light which I suppose was the Red Cross light.”

At 04:00 Glenart Castle was hit by a torpedo in the No. 3 hold.  The blast destroyed most of the lifeboats, while the subsequent pitch of the vessel hindered attempts to launch the remaining boats.  In the eight minutes the ship took to sink only seven lifeboats were launched.  Rough seas and inexperienced rowers swamped most of the boats.

Only a few survivors were reported. 162 people were killed including the Captain — Bernard Burt, eight nurses, seven Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) medical officers and 47 medical orderlies. The Matron of Glenart Castle — Miss Kate Beaufoy — was a veteran of the South African Warl  Her family kept her diary and her writings describe life on the ship.

Evidence was found suggesting that the submarine may have shot at initial survivors of the sinking in an effort to cover up the sinking of Glenart Castle. The body of a junior officer of from the ship was recovered from the water close to the position of the sinking.  It was marked with two gunshot wounds, one in the neck and the other in the thigh. The body also had a life vest indicating he was shot while in the water.


Researcher: Becky Lonergan
Published: November 2013
Updated: Insert dates here

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