The high flying (and diving) Capt. Jack Allport.


Darragh Christie, 7 January 2019 · #

Allport and RE8. Reproduced with permission from the Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians

‘Shoreman’ becomes a high-flyer.

J.Allport with Mosman Football Club First Grade, 1915.

Jack Manning Allport was born on the 13th of July 1895 in St Leonards, N.S.W. His family home was “Medbury”, 6 Middle Head Rd, Mosman. He and his brother were sent to Mosman Church of England Preparatory School (Mosman Prep.) and Sydney Church of England Grammar School, North Sydney (Shore.)

Jack became a high achieving sportsman playing Rugby Union as a ‘Shoremen’ (North Sydney – Mosman Club.) He also rowed for SCEGS in the GPS championships on the Parramatta River, winning two years in succession from 1913 to 1914.1

Mosman Football Club First Grade, 1915. L-R: Back row: R. Allport, D. Cichero, B.Shearer, T. Sellin, Wilkes, J.Allport, A. Divola, C.Ashdown, G. Ackland. Source: ‘Trace’ online archive Barry O’Keefe Library.

Jack Allport enlisted on the 4th of January 1916, and embarked on HMAT Argyllshire on the 11th May 1916. Enroute Jack ran into old Shore boy Eric Dibbs] Gunner Allport trained with the 7th Field Artillery Battalion in the U.K. He then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on the 16th of March, 1917.

With the RFC in France.

Lt. Allport would go on to fly reconnaissance, bombing and photographic missions with 2 and 5 Squadrons in RE.8 and FK.8 aircraft.

On occasion, he and his observers had to survive attacks by enemy scouts. Major Wilfrid R. Snow, (2 Sqn. C.O.) recalled:

Among others, I had ‘Sayers’ Allport, of Sydney, a splendid fellow. He was attacked one day, when he was in a slow old ‘bus’, by five German scouts, whose machines were 50 miles an hour faster than his. But he accepted the proposition and made it willing. He shot down two, and the other three cleared for their lives. Allport just carried on, and finished his job. That’s the type of men the colonial flyers are.

Allport remembered:

It was the beginning of 1918, and the German “Circuses” were making their appearance up north where we were. On one occasion, on photography, in company with another Armstrong Whitworth which was acting as my-escort, we ran slap bang into a brightly coloured “Circus” of six Albatros, which dived almost vertically at us. My observer, Arthur Hammond, a Canadian who saw them first, got a good burst into one of them, which went down in flames. From then on it was a dog-fight between the Germans and the two of us, during which time I circled many times, keeping a watch on my tail. As each one came at us, we pulled into an increasingly tighter turn, and “Hammy” my observer, would have his gun trained on the enemy aircraft, as long as they would persist in trying to get on our tail. One of these he also shot down, and by this time we were down to about 500 ft. and there was only one of them left to chase off…

‘My observer, Arthur Hammond, a Canadian who saw them first, got a good burst into one of them, which went down in flames.’ B&W illustration by Derek White. (Signed DW’69.) Reproduced with permission from the Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians

Allport was awarded the Military Cross and promoted to Captain. His citation for Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty was published in the London Gazette

High-diver at Clifton Gardens

Portrait of 2nd Lieutenant Roland Brett Allport

Descendants of the Allport family donated photographs to Local Studies at Barry O’Keefe Library. They include pictures of family outings just after the war. Of particular interest are images of Jack Allport soaring through the air off a high-diving platform at Clifton Gardens. Others show him relaxing with his family and friends by the foreshore.

Also pictured is his brother Roland Brett who was wounded twice, at Gallipoli and in France. Brett married on the 23rd of December, 1935 and died March 16, 1936, ‘of old war wounds’ at Randwick military hospital.4

Clifton gardens swimming pool, 1920’s. In this photograph a well known local identity, Jack M. Allport, dives into the circular pool. Source: ‘Trace’ online archive Barry O’Keefe Library.

Brett, Jack , Amy Allport and friends at Clifton Gardens c 1920. Source: ‘Trace’ online archive Barry O’Keefe Library.

Amy, Brett and Roland Allport and friends at Clifton Gardens c 1920.

Portrait in 1929 ‘Truth’ article

After WWI Jack lived at “Coombe Cottage” in Clifton St, Mosman, with wife Edith Evelyn ‘Mouse’ Allport (b.1895). They married in 1920.

Jack went into the motor trade. In 1929 he appeared in a news article.3 At the time Jack was the sales manager for Harden and Johnston Ltd., Dodge Brothers motor distributors for NSW. Jack was obviously reluctant to talk to the ‘journo’ from the local ‘rag’:

…privately one would no more accuse him of being the driving force behind a live bunch of salesmen than suspect him of flying in the air. Nevertheless ‘Johnny’ Allport certainly ‘knows his automobiles’ and sees to it that the sales quota up his way is in a very healthy upgrade. To get J. M. Allport to talk about himself is about as easy as opening oysters with a hairpin…

In WWII Allport served with the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve. Towards the end of his life, he participated in audio and television interviews, relating his war experiences.

Jack died on the 20th of February 1978, in Mosman, aged 83. Edith also passed away in 1978, aged 82.

Jack and Roland Brett’s names on the South face of the Mosman War Memorial.

Follow the J.M. Allport story in these articles:

Fledgling wings: Lt. Taylor inspires Gunner Allport.

Capt. Allport, MC: Air war over the Western Front

Interview with Capt. J.M. Allport: ‘Aerial Reconnaissance on the Western Front’

For more donated photographs of family outings after the war.

Footnotes

1 This later became ‘Head of the River’ at Penrith, still run annually. Source: The Sunday Times : https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/123136348

2 Other notable flyers from the area who attended Mosman Prep and Shore included Sir P.G. Taylor, L.L. Richardson and Garnet Malley.

3MEN WE MEET” Truth (Sydney, NSW: 1894 – 1954) 27 October 1929: 22. Web. 11 Dec 2018 .

4 Brett is mentioned in a diary donated to the library.


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Jerry · 11 February 2019 · #

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