Service Personnel
Warrant Officer
David Allen NZ40910

PREFACE: During World War 2 one in two hundred of New Zealand's population (about 8000 servicemen) suffered loss of liberty and deprivations through being held in captivity as prisoners of war (PoW's).
About 500 of these were airmen.

The Geneva Convention required that PoW's assessed by a mixed medical commission as seriously ill or
wounded should be repatriated back to their own country, invariably via a neutral country.
Each commission consisted of three medical officers, two from a neutral country (one of whom presided)
and one from the detaining power.Decisions were by a majority. The Convention also stipulated that
repatriated personnel were not to be subsequently employed in any combatant role.

Overall, about 11,000 New Zealanders served as aircrew in
Britain's Royal Air Force in its various theatres of operation,
and more than one in three were killed.
Around 6000 of these flew with Bomber Command, and 1850 died.

Many other aircrew were injured or became PoW's.
Two Hawkes Bay aircrew that suffered both these fates were
Warrant Officers
David Allen and Hugh English.
They were injured when shot down on separate Bomber Command
operations over enemy territory and ended up as “Kreigies”
(the name Allied prisoners used to describe themselves,
and derived from Kriegsgefangene, the German term for PoW's).

David Allen, Ian Walker, Hugh English,
Air Secretary Barrow, AVM Isitt.

Later in the war David and Hugh were assessed under the Geneva Convention as qualifying for repatriation on medical grounds. After release from captivity they eventually embarked on the Hospital Ship MV Oranje, arriving in Wellington on 14 December 1943. The next day David Allen, Hugh English and Ian Walker of Auckland (who had all been promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer while in captivity) were welcomed back by the Chief of Air Staff for the RNZAF, Air Vice-Marshall LM Isitt. They were the first three New Zealand overseas air personnel to be repatriated back to New Zealand from German hands.

David joined the RNZAF on 9 April 1940, having the written consent of his widowed mother, being under 21 years of age at the time. Character references were supplied by his employer and by the Mayor of Napier, Mr TW Hercock.

Ground Training School near Levin he was posted to the
Air Gunner's & Air Observer's School at RNZAF Ohakea as an
LAC Air Gunner Under Training.
This included seven hours air-to-air firing from the open rear cockpit
of large single-engined Vickers Vincent biplanes.
His first three flights were in Vincent NZ 311.
This aircraft survives today, under restoration, north of Auckland.

Vickers Vincent NZ311 under restoration.

End of May 1940 - awarded his Air Gunners brevet,
promoted to Sergeant and posted to the RAF. On 1 June he sailed off to England,
arriving at the Aircrew Reception Centre at RAF Uxbridge on 21 July 1940
during the dark days of the Battle of Britain. Then to No 15 Operational Training Unit
at RAF Harwell, Oxfordshire. During August he flew about 30 hours learning to
become a rear gunner on Vickers Wellington night bombers.
6th September - posted to 149 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

Right: A Rear Gunner's 'Office' - cleaning the guns on the rear turret of a Wellington Bomber.

Sergeant Allen's first operation against the enemy was on
18th. Sep 1940 to Flushing in Holland.
Further operations on Wellingtons to targets in Germany
and France, including 8 hour sorties to Berlin and back,
continued until June 1941.
Wellington Bomber
July 1941 - transferred to No 7 Squadron at RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire, and converted onto
the RAF's first four-engined bomber...the Short Stirling.

His first (and last) operation in a Stirling (N6035) was to Berlin on 27 July 1941.
The aircraft was hit by enemy fire and ended up limping over Holland at 800 ft with two motors crippled
and all gun turrets out of action. David parachuted from the aircraft but after landing,
the Germans smartly gathered up the crew and took them into captivity.

David was subsequently admitted to the
“Caterpillar Club” - an organisation
with exclusive membership for aircrew who have parachuted from disabled
aircraft. The badge symbolises a silkworm whose threads created the silk from
which parachutes were made (until substituted with nylon late in the war).

Caterpillar Club Member's badge

Letter from
RAF Depository
to Mrs Allen
Shortly after his capture the Germans telegraphed advice of David's prisoner-of-war status
to the Red Cross in Geneva. It is likely the Red Cross then informed the British authorities,
and ultimately notice was given to his mother in Napier as next of kin.
Later she received notice from the RAF's Central Depository that they now held
her son's personal effects in safe custody. During his time in Germany David was
transferred to several camps, including Stalags IIIE, IIID, VIIIB, and Stalag Luft 3.

New Zealand and Australian airmen PoW's at Stalag IIIE.
David Allen second from right in front row.
He also spent time during 1942 in a Military hospital in Berlin,
having his wounds tended and being medically assessed.
While there was sketched by an artist.
Being in Berlin he experienced at close hand the heavy pasting that the shattered city received from bombing.
He observed that his experience of the raids lived up to all he subsequently read of them.
Despite German endeavours to keep news from the prisoners he observed, “the Reich was being
considerably rocked by the RAF.” Speaking later of camp life David said that it was made tolerable only through
the good offices of the Red Cross organisation, whose parcels were a veritable Godsend.

Stalag Football.

Stalag Athletics

Rec Room
In April 1943 he was transferred to a hospital attached to Stalag VIIIB,
where PoW's awaiting repatriation were assembled.
Eventually, in late 1943, David and a group of other sick and wounded PoW's travelled south by train to Marseilles,
in German-occupied France. From there they went by sea to a most hospitable reception at Barcelona,
in neutral Spain. A freighter then took them across the Mediterranean to Alexandria in Egypt,
where they boarded the Oranje on 24 Nov 1943 for the long journey back to New Zealand.
After discharge from the RNZAF in 1945, David was active on the
Committee of the Napier Ex-PoW Association. Looking after the welfare
of members was an important function of the Association.

David died in 1969.