Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Honorary Colonel Herbert Trangmar Allan MC, OBE(M)

Service numbers N60005 and  NX12229


Much is on the internet about Herbert - This blog concentrates on and commemorates 75 years since the War came to New Guinea and his achievements there.

At 45 years of age Herbert Trangmar Allan was willing and ready to sign up at the start of World War II. Born in 1895 in Woolwich Sydney “Blue Allan” as he was known due to his fiery red hair was a gold miner in Wau in the Territory of New Guinea. He had had a distinguished career in World War I receiving a Military cross and many “mentioned in dispatches” awards.

He was awarded his military cross during WWI on 25 September 1917 when he was a Lieutenant Colonel with the 2/17th A I F. His leadership was rewarded after an attack at Passchendaele Ridge. He was the sole surviving officer of two commands.

After returning from WWI he completed his studies in Arts and Law majoring in Military Science with first class honours at Sydney University. After university he worked as a Gold miner in the New Guinea Territory until the break outbreak of World War II where he signed up again for service at the commencement of WWII.

Again in overseas service he showed his bravery and leadership. Herbert was granted an OBE (Military) for distinguished service in the Middle East from the period April to October 1941 in Tobruk.


However with the war moving to our near neighbour his previous experience in Papua New Guinea was useful. Back in Sydney around 1943, he trained soldiers for jungle warfare. The Australian Dictionary of Biography describes his contribution.

“In June he was promoted temporary lieutenant colonel and proceeded to Papua as Australian Army Representative, Staff of Co-ordination, Milne Bay. It was probably a private arrangement that enabled him to accompany the 20th Brigade in the landing at Finschhafen, New Guinea, on 22 September. He quickly made contact with the luluai (headman) of Tareko to arrange for carriers and observers to report on Japanese movements.

As the army advanced along the northern coast, base sub-areas were established and Allan successively took charge of several. Promoted temporary colonel, he commanded the Pacific Islands Regiment from October 1945 to February 1946; he was mentioned four times in dispatches for his service in World War II and transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 7 May with the rank of Honorary Colonel.

'A burly, muscular man who radiated confidence', Allan was 5 ft 11 ins (180.3 cm) tall. He was a courageous and practical leader, with a 'strong personality concealed under a cloak of irresponsibility'; he loved whisky and smoked heavily.”[1]

One of his Mentioned in Dispatches Awards for Service in the New Guinea Territory[3]

After the war he was demobilised to Rabaul on 20 March 1946 were he commanded the headquarters of the Pacific Islands Regiment prior his initial return to Australia.  Later he managed a transport company in Rabaul before returning to Australia.

Herbert married Gertrude May Hodge in 1929. However the couple remained childless. He retired with Gertrude to a banana farm at Mullaway in New South Wales where he died on 23 May 1967.

[1]Australian Dictionary of Biography viewed  19/5/2017   http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/allan-herbert-trangmar-9331

[2] Australian War Memorial webpage viewed 27/5/2017 Public domain photograph 075552 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/075552/

[3] Australian War Memorial webpage viewed 27/5/2017 https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/items/ACCNUM_LARGE/RCDIG1068966/RCDIG1068966--662-.JPG

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