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Allan Joseph Boase (1894–1964)

by George Dicker

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Leonard Charles Boase

Allan Joseph Boase (1894-1964), by unknown photographer

Allan Joseph Boase (1894-1964), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 022780

Leonard Charles Boase (1888-1975) and Allan Joseph Boase (1894-1964), army officers, were born on 5 July 1888 and 19 February 1894 at Gympie, Queensland, second and fourth sons of Charles Boase, journalist, and his wife Harriett Jane, née Hughes, both from England. Educated at Maryborough Grammar School, Leonard was an inspector with the Northern Assurance Co. Ltd, Brisbane, when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 January 1916. Posted to reinforcements for the 52nd Battalion, he was briefly stationed in Egypt before moving to England in June. He joined his battalion on the Western Front in September, but returned to England in November for officer-training.

Commissioned on 28 March 1917, Leonard went back to his unit next month. On 8 June at Messines, Belgium, he led a bombing party against a company of Germans, capturing some and forcing the remainder into the open. Two days later he held an isolated position until his ammunition was expended: meantime, he kept the enemy engaged and enabled supporting troops to operate more freely. For these actions, he was awarded the Military Cross. At Dernancourt, France, on 5 April 1918 Lieutenant Boase's platoon defended a tactically important section of the line. Under his leadership, the men withstood repeated assaults until only two or three survived. Although wounded, Boase made a final effort to hold his ground, dashing among the foe and throwing bombs until he was overpowered. His comrades thought that he had been killed in the action, but he recovered as a prisoner of war. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order; evidence suggests that he was recommended for the Victoria Cross.

Back in Brisbane, on 31 May 1919 in St Mark's Anglican Church, Albion, Leonard married Ada May Hockings. He was 5 ft 6 ins (168 cm) tall, with blue eyes and fair hair. Having resumed work in insurance and become a foundation member (1928) of the Legacy Club of Brisbane, he retired in 1950 and lived quietly, first at Southport, then at Buderim. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died on 6 August 1975 at Nambour and was cremated; his son Peter had been killed over France in 1943 while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force.

Allan Boase was educated at Brisbane Grammar School where he was champion gymnast in 1909-10. Entering the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, he graduated in August 1914 and was posted to the 9th Battalion, A.I.F. In September he embarked for Egypt. After landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, he and his platoon were part of the advanced party which reached Lone Pine. They withdrew under fire and dug in at 'Daisy Patch' next day. Boase was wounded and evacuated; his boat capsized and he narrowly escaped drowning. He rejoined his unit in September. Arriving on the Western Front in June 1916, he was promoted major in the 12th Battalion on 1 December and later performed staff duties. He was repatriated in January 1918.

Sent to the 5th Military District, Perth, in May 1921 Allan transferred to the 13th Mixed Brigade. On 30 August 1922 in St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Perth, he married Williamina Boyd Norman. Next year he went to England to attend the Staff College, Camberley. From 1926 he served in a succession of staff positions in Perth and Melbourne, and in 1937-39 was an exchange officer in India. Promoted colonel on 2 November 1939, he became commandant, Command and Staff School, Sydney. In April 1940 he was seconded to the A.I.F. as assistant-adjutant and quartermaster general, 7th Division, and in October embarked for the Middle East. When headquarters, A.I.F. Base Area, was formed at Gaza in November, he was placed in charge as temporary brigadier with responsibility for local administration and the handling of convoys. He was to be appointed C.B.E. (1942).

In August 1941 he took command of the 16th Brigade. Following the decision to reinforce the garrison in Colombo, in March 1942 Allan was promoted temporary major general and made general officer commanding, A.I.F., Ceylon. Returning to Australia, in September he became major general, General Staff, First Army, with headquarters at Toowoomba, Queensland. Twelve months later he was in New Guinea as commander of the 11th Division. His headquarters was moved to North Queensland in July 1944; he was appointed general officer commanding, Western Command, Perth, in April 1945. Postings followed as Australian army (1946-48) and defence (1948-49) representative in London. On 12 March 1949 he was promoted temporary lieutenant general and given charge of Southern Command, Melbourne; he remained there until his retirement on 20 February 1951.

Dark complexioned and 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, Allan enjoyed gardening and golf. He died of a coronary occlusion on 1 January 1964 at East St Kilda and was cremated. His wife and daughter survived him, as did his son Neil who became a commodore in the Royal Australian Navy. Allan's brothers Francis and Colin had also served in World War I; Colin was killed at Gallipoli.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac, vol 1 (Syd, 1921)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1916 (Syd, 1929), 1918 (Syd, 1937)
  • G. Long, To Benghazi (Canb, 1952)
  • G. Long, Greece, Crete and Syria (Canb, 1953)
  • D. McCarthy, South-West Pacific Area—First Year (Canb, 1959)
  • D. Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives (Canb, 1961)
  • K. Willey, The First Hundred Years (Melb, 1968)
  • Brisbane Grammar School Magazine, June 1950
  • Australian War Memorial records
  • private information.

Citation details

George Dicker, 'Boase, Allan Joseph (1894–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 24 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Allan Joseph Boase (1894-1964), by unknown photographer

Allan Joseph Boase (1894-1964), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 022780

Life Summary [details]


19 February, 1894
Gympie, Queensland, Australia


1 January, 1964 (aged 69)
St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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