The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Norman Allen
- Nick Name:
- Al or Allen
- Regimental #:
- 'C' Company
- Place of Birth:
- Mt Lawley, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Norman Frank Gibson
- Mothers's Name:
- Ebba Gibson (nee Mouritzen)
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Labuan War Cemetery, Plot 20, Row E, Grave 6, Age 25.
- Selarang Camp Changi
- ‘B’ Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Acute Enteritis
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan‐Ranau track, 2nd Ranau march
- Date of Death:
The outline of Allen Gibson and his family will sadden all who read further. It does not mention nor do we know of the extent of their pain and grief which Two World Wars brought to several generations of this Australian family. We today, live our lives far removed from the reality of war. We are the lucky ones!
Allen Gibson was wounded in action at Reformatory Road, Ulu Pandan. Admitted to Field Ambulance with a shrapnel wound to his back. Transferred to 2/10th Australian General Hospital and discharged to unit on 29.3.1942.
From Selarang Camp Changi Allen was one of a large number of 2/4th men selected with ‘B’ Force Borneo.
Allen died in June 1945 on Sandakan-Ranau Track aged 25 years. The last months were horrific for POWs – so very little food using what they had stockpiled as the Japanese no longer provided for them. We now know Japanese guards had been ordered to ensure no POWs survive – from the end of 1944 the Japanese starved the POWs to death or to die of illness.
Allen was selected for the Second March Sandakan to Ranau. 356 POWs began leaving Sandakan in groups of about 50 with their guards, loaded up carrying munitions, rice and sometimes Japanese personal belongings. The track was tortuous – muddy and slippery, through swampy areas, up and down steep slopes always prodded by their guards. Allen died on the Track 28 miles from Sandakan on 24 June 1945 aged 25 years.
Allen or Al as he was known was third child of Frank Norman Gibson and Ebba Mouritzen who married Perth in 1914.
He was a student of Wesley College, South Perth.
Ebba was daughter Danish born parents Christian Frederick Mouritzen and Jenny Hansine Carolina Wilhemina Berg. Christian Mouritzen became a prominent businessman who owned several hotels in Fremantle and Perth. The family resided in South Perth.
During the years of WW1 and with widespread anti-German sentiment, Christian Mouritzen was one of many to publicly confirm he was not German. The Mouritzen family were Danish.
Christian Frederick Mouritzen died 9 September 1927 when Allen was 8 years old. Jenny Mouritzen (nee Berg) died May 1951. During her life Jenny Mouritzem had mourned the deaths of her son Roy, her husband Christian, grandson Graham Gibson with RAAF in PNG, her daughter Ebba Gibson in 1944 and then her grandson Allen Gibson in Sandakan, Borneo 1945.
Allen was born two years after his two uncles died in WW1, one each on his father’s side and his mother’s side of his family.
Allen Gibson’s mother Ebba Mouritzen was one of four children, 2 daughters and 2 sons. Tragedy hit the Mourtizen family when younger son Roy Walter Mouritzen lost his life in 1917. A former CBC student and talented all rounder sportsman, he rowed for school and played one game for East Perth football team on 1st August 1914. Roy travelled to England and enlisted with Royal Flying Corp.
In September 1916 an airfield was established at Stowes Marie, England for Royal Flying Corp. The first recorded operational flight took place on the night of 23 May 1917.
Roy arrived in London 17 June 1916, joined the Artists Rifles as a cadet and soon passed examination for entry into Royal Flying Corps, obtaining a commission as an observer. On 27 May he obtained his Pilots Wings and was posted to 37 Squadron at Stow Maries. On 5 June 1917 he was pilot of a 2-seat Sopworth with a 1 1/2 Strutter A3805. Returning to the aerodrome Roy attempted landing downwind 100 yards from a hut. He opened the throttle and rose but struck a caravan causing his aircraft to crash. Roy died 2 hours later from his injuries at the aged 20 years.
Allen’s uncle and younger brother to his father Wilfred (Allen) Gibson Service Number 28645 was KIA in WWI. Allen as he was known, was born in Fremantle 1895 died 15 October 1917 Zonnebeke Ridge, Belgium aged 22 years. He was a gunner with 10th Field Artillery Brigade. His name is recorded at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Allen enlisted at the end of January 1916 recording his father Frank as his NOK. When Wilfred (Allen) was KIA – his father had died and his mother and brother Frank became his NOK. It is not known if Wilfred (Allen) knew of his father’s death.
Above: Part of the correspondence between Alice Gibson, mother of W. Allen Gibson and Army officials. Earlier correspondence confirmed Allen Gibson was buried not far from from where he was killed. Later correspondence tells us Alice Gibson was written to and informed Allen’s remains could not be located and/or identified. This would have been additionally painful for Alice, who would have recently faced the death of her husband and Grandfather to Allen Gibson.
Allen’s grandmother Alice Gibson died in 1940.
Ebba Gibson died 30 October 1944 aged 49 years. She would not have known her youngest son was alive and a POW in Borneo however, the Gibson family would have been informed of their eldest son’s death. Graham Ian Gibson who had enlisted with RAAF was presumed to have lost his life February 1942 in a flight near PNG. Graham was married with a young son.
Allen’s father Frank Norman Gibson, born in Victoria in 1899 remarried and died in 1957 aged 67 years.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***