Allan was born in Butterworth on the east side of Rochdale, the son of James and Sarah. James was a Congregationalist Minister and later moved to the church at Dukinfield. By 1914, he had died and Sarah had moved to 197 Bramhall Lane, Stockport, where she was in business as a milliner. By then, Allan had joined the Marines as a professional soldier, probably when he was 18.
The Marines landed at Dunkirk on 20 September 1914 with orders to move north to assist with the defence of Antwerp, reaching the city on the night of 3 October. They immediately occupied hastily dug trenches but, within 48 hours, it was clear that the German attack was in such strength that there was no option but for the British and Belgian troops to retreat. Many of the Marines were taken prisoner and others crossed into Holland where they were interned for the rest of the War. Allan and others managed to successfully fall back and, shortly afterwards, arrived back in Britain.
British troops started to invade the Turkish peninsula at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and quickly established themselves around Cape Helles at the southern tip. Allan and his comrades were in a second wave of landings, on the 29th. They arrived at what was now called ANZAC Cove and deployed to assist the Australian and New Zealand troops already there.
It has not been possible to trace any contemporary records of the Battalion for May 1915 and, therefore, it is possible to know the exact circumstances of Allan’s death. However, it is known that on 19 and 20 May 1915, the Turkish army launched a large scale attack at ANZAC which was driven off with heavy losses. It must be presumed that Allan was killed during the fighting.
The fighting had been so intense that, on 24 May, a six hour armistice was agreed to allow the dead of both sides to be buried. It is probable that Allan was buried at this time, very near to the front line. Over the course of the War, the location will have been lost and he is now commemorated on the nearby Memorial to the Missing.