The Royal New South Wales Lancers

Allen Chanter A Lancer's Story

Allen John Chanter was born at Albury on 8 February 1924. After four years at Maitland High School, gaining his intermediate certificate, he took a job as a bank clerk and was living at Dulwich Hill with his mum and dad. Allen's father Albert had served in World War 1 with the rank of Major in the 4th LH serving at Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine. In 1940 Allen joined the 14th Motor Regiment AMF, army number N244623 serving as a trooper until the unit disbanded in May 1942 when he was transferred to the 3rd Army Tank Battalion. On 22 July 1942 he transferred to the AIF, his number changing to NX132400. On 21 December 1942 he was appointed lance-corporal at the same time qualifying as a tank gunnery instructor. On 12 February 1943, he was transferred to 1 Army Tank Battalion (Royal New South Wales Lancers).

On 13 July 1943 he had his first bout of sickness, severe enough to be transferred to 6 Fd Amb for a couple of days.

10 September 1943 saw Allen as a driver/operator at Milne Bay with C squadron. C Squadron was then despatched to the Huon Peninsula, landing at Finschaffen then taking part in the battle of Sattelberg. On 27 September 1944 he embarked with his squadron at Madang for Brisbane. His first tour of duty over.

On 1 May 1944 he was promoted temporary corporal, confirmed in that rank on 15 October.

12 December 1944 saw him back at the Field Ambulance (this time 106 Lt Fd Amb) with another bout of what was soon to be diagnosed as a serious tropical disease.

15 June 1945 he embarked on the Millen Griffith for another tour of combat duty. The liberty ship went aground on the New Guinea coast at Bonga north of Finschaffen. Men and equipment salvaged, they continued on to Moratai, jumping-off point for Balikpapan and the Regiment's last battle of World War 2.

Allen landed with his squadron on 19 July and pushed inland following-up A and B Squadrons that had landed on the 1st. The enemy had already broken contact, the war ending officially on 15 August, Allen making temporary sergeant on 8 August, a rank confirmed on 10 October 1945.

His tropical illness struck again. Allen was not able to return to Australia. He was demobilised on 25 November 1946 and stayed on in Indonesia showing his entrepreneurial streak by selling army "disposals" to the locals.

When he re-enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces on 20 November 1952 he was 175 cm tall and weighed 72 kg, single, living at Concord and employed as a clerk by Mercantile Credits Ltd. His rank on enlistment was trooper, rising quickly to sergeant the rank he had when he was discharged from the AIF. Soon after he is recorded as married and living at Chatswood. Allen’s first wife was Ausma with whom he had two daughters Maree (born 1954) and Alaine (born 1956).

Allen, being fully qualified applied for a commission in 20 January 1954 to be posted as a LO with C Squadron.

In that same year, 1954, Allen left Mercantile Credits and started his own business Allen's Industries, a furniture store.

By February 1956 he was a commissioned lieutenant and a qualified Centurion crewman.

By 1959, Allen's business was not going well, he closed the store, left his family, and moved to Melbourne where he set up delivering fruit and vegetables to hotels.

He decided that he could no longer serve in the Army. He was transferred to the retired list on 29 April 1959. The end of Allen’s military career. For his service he was qualified for the 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, War Medal, Australian Service Medal and Australian Defence Medal.

Allen was a big drinker. He had a jovial personality making him an ideal publican. 1960 saw him as the publican of the “Gresham” Port Melbourne, a position he retained until he retired aged 62 in 1985.

He built his own house in a semi-rural block at 557-559 Harkness Road, Melton West, Victoria. He was intensely proud of it.

The House that Allen Chanter built at Mentone, Victoria

In his long and eventual lifetime, Allen was married on another two occasions, to Sylvia then Margaret. In the process he gained two stepdaughters and a stepson.

In his later years Allen's neighbour, John Forrester became a good friend. John was in 1st Armd Regt LAD from 1970 to 1972, so could talk a little about "Centurions", and Allen spoke of "Matildas"!

At Allen's funeral held at St Albans Victoria on 21 May 2021, Howard Burvill was able to represent the Association along with Lindsay Burke of the 4/19 PWLH Association (Allen's Dad served in the 4LH in WW1) and John Forrester, all wearing the black beret.

With thanks to Bert Castellari, Alaine Chanter, John Forrester and Allen's Service Record in the NAA.
John Howells 2021

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