Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Les soldats de la Grande Guerre : Projet de biographies historiques sur les soldats de Fredericton

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Allen, Royden Arthur "Avery"

Private 223384
Royal Canadian Regiment
85th Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders
10th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops


Private Royden Arthur Allen was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on October 1, 1899 to Elsie Deleta Thomas and Charles Henry Allen. Charles, originally from Grand Lake, and Elsie, from Prince William, married one another March 22, 1890 in Fredericton and would go on to have three children together. Royden grew up with two brothers, Harry and Sydney, and a sister Lillian, who would marry Stanley Corey in 1910. The Allen family lived in Fredericton at 208 Brunswick Street before moving to Nova Scotia. During the war Royden’s parents would live at the Windsor House in Halifax as Charles was stationed with his unit there for four years.

At the time of his enlistment with the Royal Canadian Regiment prior to the war, only 14 years old, Royden was a student and would spend time in Bermuda where he served eight months. Upon returning to Canada, Royden would enlist in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 7, 1915 with the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders as an underage soldier. At sixteen years of age, Royden stood five feet six inches tall, weighed 134 pounds, and had a dark complexion, with brown eyes, and black hair. Documents suggest him having numerous scars and tattoos on both forearms, which might have made his claim to be eighteen on his attestation papers acceptable. In 1915 Royden was unmarried, although he would later return to marry his sweetheart Clare.

Wartime Experience

After spending almost a year in training with the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders in Halifax, Private Royden Allen left with his unit on October 12, 1916 aboard the S.S Olympic arriving in Liverpool, England on October 18. Service documents reveal that Royden held the important role of Company Bugler until his discharge in 1918, a distinguished role for any soldier of the CEF. Royden would train at Whitley and then Bramshot for a period of seven months before being attached to the 10th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops as a sapper. Sappers played a critical role in building and repairing roadways and bridges, as well they were responsible for clearing areas of deadly explosive materials. He left with his unit for France on June 17, 1917 arriving two days later in Le Havre, France just after the success of Vimy Ridge. According to family records, during the battles of Hill 70 and Lens, Royden and many others of the 10th CRT were wounded by enemy mustard gas shells forcing him out of line before rejoining on September 19.

After Passchendaele, his medical history sheets reveal a winter in which Royden suffered severely from the effects of his injuries noting that Royden “had a cold all winter long which slowly grew worse… likely a result of having sensitive lungs from typhoid fever as a child”. Medical records highlight as well how doctors would learn that Royden claimed to have had two sisters who died as a result of tuberculous when they were young. By May of 1918, Private Allen was admitted to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station suffering from a severe cold which would later be diagnosed as tuberculosis of the lungs. After being in England for treatment related to his injuries, Royden would be medically discharged from service, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the HMHS Neuralia on October 1, 1918.

Lest We Forget

After arriving home he would live at 128 King Street and marry his sweetheart, Clare, and together they would have a son named Sydney, born in 1919. Family records reveal that Royden’s son, Sydney, would go on to enlist and serve during the Second World War as a young man himself. The Daily Gleaner reported in April, 1921 that for ten months Royden’s condition worsened and that he had been “confined to his bed and was patient and cheerful, endearing himself to all”. Royden passed away at the age of twenty three on April 24, 1921 due to complications with his prolonged illness. The funeral took place two days after his death in his home on 128 King Street. He is buried along with twenty other servicemen at the Fredericton Rural Cemetery, located off the Woodstock Road.

*This biography was researched and written by Paige Chapmen & Madison MacCallum, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.