Alexander Allan was born in June 1910 in Scotland. In 1943 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and joined the 113th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery. This unit had been formed out of the old 5th (Territorial Army) Battalion DLI at Stockton on Tees.
On 7 June 1944, the day after D-Day, this regiment landed on Sword beach in Normandy and set up its anti-aircraft guns to cover the beachhead.* Alexander Allan served with the 113 LAA Regiment in France and later in Belgium, Holland and on into Germany.
In April 1945, the Regiment was sent as part of the relief force to Belsen concentration camp, where typhus was raging. There Alexander Allen and his men helped bury the dead and then move the survivors out of the camp to a neighbouring German Army barracks, where the survivors were fed and nursed. The huts at Belsen were then burnt. Alexander Allan spent nearly two months working at Belsen concentration camp.
Alexander Alan was interviewed for the Imperial War Museum in 1991:
“Well, the only way really to describe it is the fact that there was just a carpet of human bodies. Mostly very emaciated, many of them unclothed, jumbled together. People had just died where they stood. And they were outside and inside, of course, the various huts. But they were outside, you know, lying where there were trees or any open ground. It just went on, it was incredible. The bodies didn’t putrefy because they were so skeletal; there was so little flesh on them. Their arms and their legs were just like matchsticks really. But it was a gruesome horrible sight, and never again, never.”
“It was on the 21 of May, Crocodiles came in and with flame throwers set alight to all the huts, which were now deserted and empty except for a few skeletons I suppose you may say and full of human rags and excreta and all the rest of it. And all those camps, all the huts within the wire were set on fire one by one and they went up in great plume of horrible. It was all so wonderful really smoke and flame.”
*Not sure on this detail being correct. No elements of 113th were in Normandy on 7th June. ED
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