In Memory of Bull Allen
In Memory of Bull Allen, Wind & Sky Productions. Written and produced by Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks. Directed by Jary Nemo. 9.16 minute short documentary film. Produced 2013.Contributors
Free to distribute online for non-commercial purposes under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license conditions, all other use requires permission.Copyright
Copyright with Ballarat RSL and Wind & Sky Productions Pty Ltd 2013.
This short film tells the little-known story of Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen, brought up in hardship in Ballarat in regional Victoria, to become a courageous, complex war hero.
Corporal Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen was a stretcher bearer in the Australian Army in World War II who showed extraordinary bravery in recovering wounded men during battle. This short documentary tells the story behind the famous photograph of Allen carrying a wounded soldier over his back during the battle of Mt Tambu, New Guinea, in 1943. Allen was never officially recognised in Australia for his actions on that day.
NARRATOR: That's where Bull Allen kept running out and bringing one in. 'Did you know that?' he asked me. He went again and came back. Go and get your mate. Jesus Christ. You think you'll make it back this time. They're having bets on it. He went again and came back.
That bloke should have got a case of medals. He had holes in his hat. He had holes in his sleeves. He had holes in his pants. He had holes under his shirt, and that bastard went in and out 12 times.
-It was amazing, because the story that I tell about dad and the action on Tambu. It was like a moon scape of mud and rubble, and trees that had been chopped down with machine gun fire. And dad come in there and helped them out, because their own medics had been shot. And there was an aura about him, because they was taking every bit of protection they could against machine gun fire from the Japs, and you'd just go and attend to whoever it was.
He didn't care about what was happening around him with the gun fire. His focus was to attend to those people that were injured. And the American said it was god sent, sent by god.
NARRATOR: A clean rifle may mean life or death in the jungle, and these are the Australians that defeated the Japs at Kokoda. Now, over trails never traveled by whites, they follow up the attack. Soldiers skilled in all the tricks of jungle warfare, with field motors and Tommy guns, they blast away at the slightest sound.
-The level of battles in New Guinea was usually at the company level, or smaller, down to section level. And so these were important engagements just fought between a few men, which made a difference. It wasn't a large scale battle at all.
NARRATOR: These dramatic pictures show the Australians opening their phase of the attack that took Salamaua.
VET: It was hell's battlefield. It was an extraordinary place to fight a battle-- the terrain, the climate, the insidious insects, the diseases, the malaria. It was just an extraordinary place to fight, let alone, against an enemy, like the Japanese, and they suffered even more so. But they were a tirelessly ruthless enemy, and they had to be fought on the ground to win that battle.
NARRATOR: In dugouts and foxholes, enemy dead marked the path of the Australians.
-The Australians had moved in initially at the start of July. And they had taken the Japanese by surprise at the southern end of Mount Tambu, and taken the main positions. They're held against considerable counter attacks. And then over the next week or two, had taken most of the top of the mountain, but hadn't taken this final highest position. Then the Americans moved up and took over from the Australians, and so you had the Americans and the Australians together on Mount Tambu at that stage.
-A chap had said-- an Australian had said that when he was on Tambu, it was some of the most formidable country that he had fought in. Now, you're fighting it. But to carry your men out in it is something special. And your dad, his uniform was just tatters from shrapnel and bullet. Your dad would certainly have felt fire going past him, yet, he continued on, doing what he did. That's amazing.
-They talk about 12. I talked to a person there by the name of Fritz. I can't think of his other name, a real big fellow. He's about 7 feet tall, I reckon, a real big fellow. And he was saying they'd talked about it, and there was more like eight airmen that he saved in such a short time. And even if he carried him length of a football field, imagine anyone doing it.
And he was telling me how they could see dad walking down along Kaffney's Track with the wounded over his shoulder, and snipers having a go at him. So they could see all this happening. Nothing they could to do about it, but they could see it happening.
-There's a lot of newspaper articles of different stories of his action and what it was like--
LESLIE ALLEN: Yeah.
- --carrying souls out of the mud. And not just a straight walk. It was like the down a gully, up a hill sort of thing, pretty steep hill. So it's ragged sort of stuff.
LESLIE ALLEN: Well, we're not superheroes.
BILL ALLEN: People have said, someone like that would probably never ever be able to do something like that again sort of thing.
LESLIE ALLEN: But he continued to do it.
-When you think the Americans bestowed on him their highest gallantry award, a silver star, without a doubt, if he had been an American, he would have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Not only that, but if he'd been an American at Crystal Creek he would have probably got two congressional medals of honor.
-His childhood was not a good one. He was in and out of an orphanges from 11-years-old.
-Of a Sunday, we used to go around the car yards here in Ballarat, and he used to look at a Mercedes Benz. He said, oh, I've got to get one of those one day.
-We don't really probably understand just how much. And it's not only dad, it's other people, as well, like other soldiers that have gone too. We don't appreciate how much they probably put their life on the line for what we've got today.