b. 22/08/1923 Golders Green, London. d. 24/06/1944 Burma.
Michael Allmand (1923-1944) was born in Golders Green, London on 22nd August 1923, the son of Professor Arthur John Allmand MC, Professor of Chemistry at King’s College, London, and his wife, Marguerite Marie. From preparatory school, he went on to continue his education at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, where he was regarded with having great personal charm and independent views. Ampleforth was a Catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire, and this gave him a deep and abiding religious faith, and in addition a clear idea of what war was about, declaring he would be proud to fight for the cause in which his country would be involved.
From Ampleforth, Allmand went to Oriel College, Oxford University in 1941 to read History. After a year of his course, he was called up for military service in the Royal Armoured Corps into which he was commissioned on leaving his Officer Cadet Training Unit in 1943. In due course, he was selected for service in the Indian Armoured Corps, and joined the 6th Duke of Connaught’s Own Lancers, a cavalry regiment of the Indian Army.
Whilst serving as an instructor in the Indian Armoured Corps Training Centre, Allmand asked that he should be posted to a unit on active service. This was turned down, but shortly afterwards GHQ India called for officer volunteers to serve in the Second Chindit Expedition.
Without hesitating, Michael applied and was accepted. He soon found himself posted to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, one of the Battalions in 77 Infantry Brigade. The Commander of that Brigade was the redoubtable Brigadier J M (“Mad Mike”) Calvert. The operations in which 77 Infantry Brigade were involved in was to capture Mogaung. The atrocious monsoon weather, and the swampy terrain made the result very tired and exhausted soldiers succumbing to sickness and trench foot. Over a period, Michael took part in a number of actions in all of which he proved his capabilities as a cool-headed leader, despite the physical conditions.
Captain Allmand was commanding the leading platoon of a Company of the 6th Gurkha Rifles in Burma on 11th June 1944, when the Battalion was ordered to attack the Pin Hmi Road Bridge. The enemy had already succeeded in holding up our advance at this point for twenty-four hours. The approach to the Bridge was very narrow as the road was banked up and the low-lying land on either side was swampy and densely covered in jungle. The Japanese who were dug in along the banks of the road and in the jungle with machine guns and small arms, were putting up the most desperate resistance. As the platoon come within twenty yards of the Bridge, the enemy opened heavy and accurate fire, inflicting severe casualties and forcing the men to seek cover. Captain Allmand, however, with the utmost gallantry charged on by himself, hurling grenades into the enemy gun positions and killing three Japanese himself with his kukri.
Inspired by the splendid example of their platoon commander the surviving men followed him and captured their objective. Two days later Captain Allmand, owing to casualties among the officers, took over command of the Company and, dashing thirty yards ahead of it through long grass and marshy ground, swept by machine gun fire, personally killed a number of enemy machine gunners and successfully led his men onto the ridge of high ground that they had been ordered to seize.
Once again on June 23rd in the final attack on the Railway Bridge at Mogaung, Captain Allmand, although suffering from trench-foot, which made it difficult for him to walk, moved forward alone through deep mud and shell-holes and charged a Japanese machine gun nest single-handed, but he was mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards.
Captain Allmand was just 20 when he was killed, and was laid to rest in Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma. His VC gazetted on 26th October 1944, was presented to his parents at an invesititure at Buckingham Palace by King George VI. For many years, Allmand’s medals were held by his family, until at an impressive ceremonial parade held at Cassino Lines, Hong Kong, on 22nd July 1991, the Allmand family presented to the Gurkha Regiment, the Victoria Cross awarded to Michael. It is now displayed with his other medals at the Gurkha Regimental Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GURKHA MUSEUM, WINCHESTER, HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY, BURMA.
Michael Allmand's VC and campaign medals on display at the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, Hampshire (Aug 2012)
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
SECTION 13 GRAVE A.4
Chindit Memorial, Embankment, London (Pic : Thomas Stewart)