‘Shoreman’ becomes a high-flyer.
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
On the 4th of January 1916, he enlisted and embarked from Sydney, on HMAT Argyllshire on the 11th May 1916. Enroute Jack ran into old Shore boy Eric Dibbs .2 Gunner Allport trained with the 7th Field Artillery Battalion in the U.K. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on the 16th of March, 1917, and made it through the training program
With the RFC in France.
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.
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…
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
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 from the high diving platform at Clifton Gardens, and 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
Jack later went into the motor trade. In 1929 he appeared in a news article.3 He is mentioned in it as the sales manager for Harden and Johnston Ltd., who were Dodge Brothers motor distributors for NSW. Jack was obviously reluctant to talk to the hack journalist:
…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…
Between July 1942 and June 1946, J.M. Allport served in the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve.
Towards the end of his life, he participated in audio and television interviews, relating his war experiences. Ted Webster from the Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians interviewed him for their 1969 Journal
Jack lived after the war at “Coombe Cottage” in Clifton St, Mosman, with wife Edith Evelyn ‘Mouse’ Allport (b.1895). They married in 1920. Jack died on the 20th of February 1978, in Mosman, aged 83. Edith also passed away in 1978, aged 82.
Follow the J.M. Allport story in the following articles:
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
3 “MEN 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.