Byron W. Allen was born at Homer, Michigan, June 17, 1880, a son of Oliver A. and Rose (Knapp) Allen.
Oliver A. Allen was born at Chardon, Geauga County. Ohio, October 5. 1850, a son of Ira and Rebecca
(Calkins') Allen. When a child Oliver A. Allen was taken to Homer, Michigan, by his parents, and there he was
reared, and there he attended the public schools. He learned the trade of a blacksmith, which calling was
followed by his father, grandfather and other members of his immediate family. In 1884 he came to San
Bernardino, California, and for three years worked at his trade for a Mr. Lehman. At the expiration of that
period he purchased the business, and developed it into a very large industrial plant, now owned and
operated by his son, Colonel Allen. The latter has photographs showing the original equipment when his
father bought the business, and the present plant. These illustrations conclusively prove that staying with
and properly developing a business is a paying project. Oliver A. Allen continued to conduct his plant until his
death, and became one of the constructive factors of this region. Oliver A. Allen married Miss Rose Knapp,
who was born at Albion, Michigan, September 20, 1850, and died at San Bernardino in November, 1889,
leaving two small children, Edna and Colonel Allen. Subsequently Mr. Allen married Miss Sarah Hiller of
Litchfield, Michigan. Fraternally Mr. Allen was a Mason. For some years he was a valued member of the San
Bernardino Board of Trade.
Colonel Allen attended the public schools of San Bernardino and was early taught the dignity of honest labor
and the value of thrifty habits. He has grown up in his father's business, and since returning from the World
war has devoted his attention and interest to its further expansion and proper conduct. He is a man of many
interests and maintains membership with the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. Fraternally he
belongs to the Masons, in which order he has been raised to the thirty-second degree, and the Benevolent
and Protective Order of Elks. Colonel Allen is married.
For a man of his age Colonel Allen has a most remarkable military experience, and not only was the highest
ranking officer in the World war from San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but has had over twenty years'
service, fifteen years being spent in the California National Guards and five years in the United States Army.
In 1896, when only sixteen years old, Byron W. Allen enlisted March 16 in Company K, Seventh California
Infantry, National Guard. On June 8, 1901, he was commissioned first lieutenant of this company, and
September 6, 1910, was commissioned captain. On April 18, 1915, he was commissioned major of his
During the Spanish-American war, in 1898, Colonel Allen served as sergeant, and was attached to the
Eighth United States Infantry, on the Mexican border as captain of his company, and in 1916 he was again on
the Mexican Border with the National Guard. During that campaign he was promoted to be major of the
Seventh California Infantry.
When this country entered the World war he was major of the California National Guards, and entered the
Federal Army with that rank. He was first located at Camp Arcadia, California, where he was given his choice
by Anita Baldwin of a saddle horse from her stable of thoroughbreds for his personal use.
On July 31, 1917. he began the field offic^r^rourse.-at: the-^chool of musketry at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His
record Vat' this -'schools together with his past military record, was the cause-6f; his be'ihgHd4ta9hed from
the One Hundred and Sixtieth Infantry and instructed tojreport to the commanding officer of the Fortieth
Division at Camp Keirney, for duty organizing Schools of Instruction and was' assigned for duty in the office
of the chief of staff.
On October 4, 1917, he was ordered back to the Qne Huhdred and Sixtieth Infantry, and placed in command
of the First Battalion. Colonel Allen was appointed divisional machine gun officer, in charge of machine gun
instruction, January 2, 1918.
On February 2, 1918, he was again taken from the One Hundred and Sixtieth Infantry and placed in
command of the One Hundred and Forty-fifth Machine Gun Battalion, in addition to his other duties.
On July 3, 1918, Colonel Allen was relieved from the One Hundred and Forty-fifth Machine Gun Battalion and
detailed as divisional machine gun officer.
About this time he submitted to the chief of invention, Department Army War College, a machine gun sight
for indirect firing, which the ordnance department made up, and sent to all machine gun centers for testing.
On about August 5 or 6, 1918, Colonel Allen embarked from New York for France, on the Lapland, an
English vessel, with a convoy of his division. They arrived at Liverpool, England two weeks later, having
taken the Northern route. They went from Liverpool to Winchester by train, and after two weeks stay in the
latter city, moved on to Southampton, and from there his division embarked on small vessels, leaving at night
for Cherbourg, France. Of necessity they were packed in like sardines in a box. When depth bombs were
dropped for their protection from submarines the jar given their vessel was such that, having no knowledge
that this was going on, many were at least willing to leave the ship on their arrival at port.
Two days later they left Cherbourg on "side-door" Pullmans made to accommodate eight horses or forty men.
They had marched all day in a driving rain and went aboard this train in their wet clothing, and for two days
and nights had very little to eat. At the end of this period they reached La Guerche and one-half of the
division was sent on for replacement at the front.
Colonel Allen organized and was made commandant of Base Training School for the Sixth Army Corps. On
October 9, 1918, he was sent to report for duty with the inter-allied transport Commission, composed of
officers of the allied forces. It was their duty to guard all of the advance zones, and to have charge of all
allied transportation of troops and supplies in advanced zones.
In order to co-ordinate all allied means of transportation it was necessary for the purpose of instruction for
those in command to be at all active fronts, in consequence of which Colonel Allen was present at all
offensive and defensive sectors until the armistice was signed, being under fire at Verdun, St. Mihiel, Somme,
Oise-Argonne and others.
He has in his possession a German machine gun that he secured at Somme. and ammunition for it which he
annexed at the Argonne Forest offensive.
While with the commission there were weeks at a time that he did not have a drink of water, as it was all unfit
for use, and was obliged to quench his thirst, as did the others, with light wines and beer.
After he left the commission Colonel Allen received a personal letter of commendation from Major-General
Comday, Sixth Depot Division.
On the morning of November 11, 1918, while on his way to the front on approaching a small village, he and
his command met a parade composed of old men. women, boys and girls, all yelling, crying and playing
instruments. They had received word that the armistice had been signed. This was the first knowledge that
Colonel Allen had that the war was over. They proceeded to invade the village and bought all the flags and
bunting to decorate their automobiles, and they did not neglect to kiss all the pretty girls in the store.
As senior member of the American, officers he was given option as to whether he should be sent
preparatory to his return to the United States, and he chose the Fortieth Division, which was the replacement
division at Revigny, and was made assistant chief of staff. His command and staff officers, except himself, left
for the United States so that he was in command of the rear party to conduct the business of the division
On December 29, 1918, he was ordered to Beautran as advance party for his division. His first duties were
the making up of train schedules and movement orders for the division, so the different sections could be
moved from the various towns in which they were billetted to their embarkation point at Bordeaux, and see
them on board ship bound for the United States. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry while in
France, on Feb. 14, 1918.
On his return to California he was granted a leave of absence for fourteen days. On April 21. 1919. he was
attached to the Thirty second United States Infantry, but was relieved from duty April 29, 1919. in the Thirty-
second and assigned to the Twenty-fifth Infantry of Arizona. On May 12, 1919, he was detailed as range
officer in Camp Stephen D. Little.
On June 16, 1919. Colonel Allen was detailed as president of the Board of Officers for the purpose of
examining provisional officers for permanent commissions in the United States Army. For a short lime he was
in command of the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry.
On September 17, 1919, Colonel Allen was detailed president of special court martial. He was discharged
October 25, 1919, with a commission of lieutenant colonel of infantry section Officers Reserve Corps of the
United States of America.
Colonel Allen received the following letter from Major-Gen. F. S. Strong:
"Lt.-Col. Bryon W. Allen,
Infantry, U. S. A.
"The Division Commander desires to express his appreciation of the very efficient manner in which you have
performed your duties both as a Machine Gun Battalion Commander and as Divisional Machine Gun Officer.
"Your work in charge of the Divisional Machine Gun School at Camp Kearney was most satisfactory and
produced excellent results. It is recognized by all that the high efficiency of the machine gun units of the
Division was in a very great measure due to your energy and untiring efforts during the training period and
after the Division arrived in France.
"It is to be hoped that your services may be retained in the Regular Establishment.
"The undersigned would consider himself privileged in having you under his command.
"Signed, F. S. Strong, Major General, U. S. A."
Lieut. Col. Allen has a great many medals as souvenirs of his military service. He returned to San
Bernardino in December, 1919, and resumed control of his business. During his absence it had been
running under the supervision of his wife and a foreman. It still retains the firm name of Allen & Son Machine
Works. He is a firm believer that the San Bernardino district is going to become a great oil producer, and has
built extensive additions to the shop to care for this trade in support of his belief.
He is a member of the United Commercial Travelers and of the Rotary Club. He is senior deacon of San
Bernardino Lodge No. 348, - F. and A. M., and a member of the San Diego Consistory, and a member of the
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Chamber of Commerce, the Automobile Roads Association and
is eligible to the Sons of the American Revolution.
Lieut. Col. Allen married in San Bernardino in July, 1905, Miss Fannie D. Garner, a native of that city and
daughter of one of its old and honored residents. They have three children: Jack Garner Allen, a member of
the high school, Class of 1922, who is active in school athletics, both track and of the gymnasium, and he
was the first young man who made the debating class of the high school. William Atwal Allen, a member of
the high school class of 1925, and Byron William Allen, Jr., in infancy.
Byron W Allen—In the years succeeding every great war this country
has experienced a remarkable growth and development, and the
causes for this are apparent. In the first place after a man has risked
his life in behalf of his country he takes more interest in its welfare and
is not willing to have his civic duties performed for him. The careful
training and discipline of military service oftentimes develops latent
capabilities which when released in private life result in awakening to
new possibilities for individual progress. The love of change and need
for excitement are other contributing forces which urge the returned
soldier to get out of the rut of the commonplace and accomplish
something worth recording. Judging, therefore, the future by the light
of the past it is safe to predict for the United States during the next
decade, once the distressing problems of the reconstruction period
are solved and an adjustment is made to normalcy, a prosperity never
before reached. In some of the Western states where there is more
room for growth and new openings for the young men of the period
this awakening is already very noticeable. One of the returned soldiers
of the World war who is making his name known and his influence felt
in industrial circles in San Bernardino County is Lieut. Col. Byron W.
Allen, manufacturer of iron and steel products, whose plant is the
largest of its kind in the interior of Southern California.