Lost Gympie soldier remembered through the ages
GYMPIE region is learning a little more about the name that tops its list of First World War casualties, thanks to the enduring love of his family and the resources of the Australian War Memorial.
And it seems we had a lot to learn.
For many years, we did not even spell his surname correctly - not even on the gates of Gympie's Memorial Lane.
John Percival "Percy" Allan enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on August 30, 1915.
He died in action, aged 20, on October 4, 1917, about a year before the end of the most horrific conflict the world has ever seen.
He was in the 8th Reinforcement of Australia's 25th Battalion.
His memory is now preserved permanently at Gympie's RSL sub-branch, thanks to his great niece, Jennifer Young, of Buderim and his Gympie nephew Sydney Caulfield.
He was one of thousands of Australians killed near the Belgian town of Ypres, Ms Young said. And he was one of 167 from Gympie who never came home.
"For years we didn't even have his name right," Mr Caulfield said as he looked once more at the name that heads the list on the Memorial Gates.
"It was spelled 'Allen' for years, instead of 'Allan.'
"You can see where it's been changed," he said.
"And all the members of parliament and mayors and councillors we approached just ignored us," he said.
"But my wife Jan knew Tina Venardos, when Mick Venardos was mayor of Gympie.
"They invited us to lunch and I mentioned it.
"He just told the council staff to fix it, no questions asked," Mr Caulfield said.
Percy Allan's legend lives through the letters he wrote home to his sister Violet, Sydney Caulfield's aunt and Jennifer Young's grandmother.
One of those letters is now on permanent display at Gympie RSL Club, framed along with Mr Allan's photograph. It is dated August 14, 1917, less than two months before his death.
In all 13 letters and cards saved by Violet and Jennifer's mother, Ailsa Gloria Young, his only complaints were about the weather.