Allen BROOM
Rank: Private
Number: 28713
Unit: 1st Battalion SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
Date of Death: 30 March 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

There is some discrepancy about the spelling of Allen's names. The High Lane Memorial has it as Allan Bloom. The 1901 Census and registration of his birth has it as Allen. The records of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission and his medal entitlement records at the National Archives show it as Allen Broome. His parents will have also completed a form for the Commission to include their names on the record as his family and they spell the surname also as Broome, yet when they married his father, John, is recorded as being John Broom.

John Broom and Emma Shaw had married at St Peter's Church, Prestbury in the early 1880s and had six children by the time of the 1901 census. Allen, then aged two, was the youngest and had been born at Lyme. The family was living at Middlewood near High Lane and John worked as a labourer on the railways. Their home may have been "White Cottage" where they were known to be living in the early 1920s.

Allen enlisted at Stockport and will have been conscripted when he became 18. He originally served with the Monmouthshire Regiment (service number 229659) before being transferred to the Somersets.

On 21 March 1918, the German Army launched an overwhelmingly strong attack on the British lines. Within hours, many Tommies were dead or prisoner and the British army was in retreat and would continue to retreat for several days. Allen and his mates were not in the area of the attack on this day. However, by the 23rd, the German advances had nearly reached their positions and they were ordered to withdraw to a defensive line west of the road between the French town of Bailleul and the nearby village of Fampoux. Small parties of Germans engaged them but the attacks were easily beaten off. A further withdrawal took place the next day and work started to prepare a defensive line on both sides of the River Scarpe near to what had been a reserve area known as Sterling Camp.

The next few days were quiet although work building the defences continued. At about 3am on the 28th, the Somersets' positions came under heavy artillery fire which was followed up by an infantry attack at 7.30am. The Regimental History records "The enemy was held and was only able to occupy the most advanced trenches. The Germans came on in massed formation providing magnificent targets". Afterwards, there was a slight withdrawal to better consolidate the defensive position.

The next day, there was a further heavy barrage and infantry attack. This time the enemy managed to get into Stoke Trench and were reported to be working their way towards Camel Trench. "A" Company counter-attacked - first through the trench system throwing grenades in front of them to clear the way of Germans. They then climbed out of the trenches to better engage the enemy and succeeded in driving them out.

There were no further attacks on the 30th but the Germans kept up a heavy bombardment and it must have been an exploding shell which killed Allen.

Further information about him, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

   
           
   
     
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