Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen Single-Handedly Rescued 12 Wounded American Soldiers at Mount Tambu

Photo Credit: Gordon Herbert Short / Australian War Memorial / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: Gordon Herbert Short / Australian War Memorial / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

During the chaos of World War II, countless heroes emerged. Among them was Australian stretcher bearer Leslie “Bull” Allen, an extraordinary individual whose courage and determination set him apart from his comrades. Allen’s unwavering commitment and resolve in the face of danger made him a military legend when he risked his life to perform a daring rescue under enemy fire at Mount Tambu.

Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen

Jerry Cronin and two "Fuzzy Wuzzies" walking across a river in the middle of the jungle
Pte. Jerry Cronin being helped by two “Fuzzy Wuzzies” at Mount Tambu, 1943. (Photo Credit: Gordon Herbert Short / Australian War Memorial / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Leslie “Bull” Allen was born in Victoria, Australia and raised an orphan alongside his sister. He had a hard childhood and began working as a laborer on farms when he was only 12 years old.

When WWII began, Allen quickly volunteered for the Second Australian Imperial Force. He was assigned to the 2/5th Battalion, 17th Brigade, 6th Division and sent to Palestine for training. While there, he was made a stretcher bearer for Don Company.

Palestine was also where he earned his famous nickname. When playing rugby, Allen had a habit of charging toward opposing players like a bull. It helped that he was well above average height for the time. One of his comrades later recalled, “You could hear him a mile off! Bull was thus one of the battalion’s most recognizable…and one of its most popular characters.”

Exceptional service during World War II

Members of the Australian 2/5th Battalion, 17th Brigade, 6th Division aiming their weapons in the jungle
Australian 2/5th Battalion, 17th Brigade, 6th Division during the fighting at Mount Tambu, 1943. (Photo Credit: Robert John Buchanan / Australian War Memorial / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Bull Allen saw service throughout the Second World War, including during the Western Desert and Syria-Lebanon Campaigns, although he was admitted to hospital in 1941 for” anxiety neurosis.” Despite this, he was regarded by many as calm and steady in combat.

In one instance, Allen looked after his wounded throughout the night, only to walk 6.2 miles the following day after no sleep to get them transportation. In another, while serving in Papua New Guinea, he was awarded the Military Medal for his “untiring efforts in tending the wounded and helping with rations and stores.” For this, he was also promoted to the rank of acting corporal.

This was but one of the battles Allen would experience in Papua New Guinea, another of which was the Battle of Mount Tambu in July-August 1943. His unit fought alongside American soldiers during this stage of the Salamaua-Lae Campaign.

Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen’s selfless actions under enemy fire

Leslie "Bull" Allen carrying an injured American soldier through the jungle
Cpl. Leslie “Bull” Allen rescuing an American soldiers during the fighting at Mount Tambu, 1943. (Photo Credit: Gordon Herbert Short / Australian War Memorial / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Bull Allen’s most memorable actions came on July 30, 1943, in the midst of the Battle of Mount Tambu. Despite being injured during the fighting, the stretcher bearer didn’t waver in his duties. Under heavy enemy fire and with no assistance, he rescued 12 American casualties by carrying them over his shoulders, despite two other medics having already been killed attempting this.

Supposedly, each time he appeared with another man, his comrades would make bets over if he’d return. He did without fail. After returning with the last one, he collapsed from exhaustion.

Allen was awarded the Silver Star for efforts that earned him “the unstinted praise of all who witnessed his action.” Unfortunately, his bravery wasn’t without consequence. He’d always challenged authority, and following Mount Tambu assaulted an officer. He was demoted and eventually discharged for being medically unfit on September 10, 1944.

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During this time, Allen also lost his ability to speak, and was sent to live with an uncle while he dealt with the trauma of his service. He eventually recovered, married a former nurse and went on to have a career as a medical orderly.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.