Discover the career of Sydney-born Tubby Allen, an Australian General who earned the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for service during the Great War and went on to command troops during the Second World War in North Africa, Greece, and Syria before deployment to Papua New Guinea to face the Japanese threat at Kokoda.
Thickset and powerfully built Allen was affectionately known as ‘Tubby’. He was an accountant and keen part-time soldier outside of wartime and a skilled commander during the Great War and Second World War.
At the height of the Kokoda Campaign, Allen was sacked from his role as a commander. General Thomas Blamey and those at the senior level did not understand the challenges faced by those serving on the Kokoda Trail, so Blamey sacked the commanders at brigade, divisional and force level.
Tubby Allen’s service may be best summed up in the final sentence of the recommendation for the DSO he received after the battle of Messines in June 1917 – “He showed initiative and organising ability throughout … and his energy and devotion to duty inspired all.”
This exhibition presents a series of photos documenting Tubby Allen’s career in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
The exhibition is located in the Memorial’s Auditorium on Lower Ground level. The Memorial is open every day, 9am to 5pm. Please note that access to the exhibition is dependent on the auditorium’s availability, so we encourage you to call the Memorial in advance on (02) 8262 2900.
Entry is free.
The stories behind the photos
Hear about the stories behind some of the photos in the exhibition below from the Memorial's Senior Historian and Curator, Brad Manera.
Introducing Major General Arthur 'Tubby' Allen
Brigadier ‘Tubby’ Allen DSO, commander of the first brigade (the 16th Brigade) of the recently raised Second AIF, in conversation with Lieutenant General Thomas Blamey, the force commander, at Ingleburn Army Camp, Liverpool, December 1939.
Mona and Tubby Allen in the Middle East
A happy reunion occurred in mid-1941 when Tubby Allen was able to meet his wife Mona in the Middle East.
He had been recently promoted Major General, to command the 7th Australian Division, and she was serving in the uniformed Red Cross.
Tubby Allen after the Kokoda Trail
Major General Allen with staff and RAAF and RAN officers study a map on exercise in northern Australia in 1943.
Although the threat to Australia had subsided, Allen applied his experience to teaching those who would soon fight in the great counter-offensive.
Tubby Allen and the Governor-General
Major General Allen, commander of Northern Territory Force meets the Governor-General Lord Gowrie VC in front of a Hudson bomber at a RAAF base in northern Australia in August 1943 while on a tour of inspection.