Allan Wentworth Brecht, born in 1891, was one of seven children born to Ernest and Agnes Brecht in the Hunter region of NSW.
After the death of Agnes and two of his brood, Ernest brought his remaining family to Bimbooria, near Kelvin in around 1909.
Allan listed himself as a “labourer” on his enlistment papers and it is likely that he did much of this labouring on the farm. After the war he would go back to it – listing himself as a farmer in the Sands Directory of 1919, alongside his father.
However, farming was a long way from where Allan was in 1918, when he was recommended for, and received the Military Medal; and then, two months later, for a separate action was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
It had begun in March 1916 when Allan had enlisted, and then later been placed, into the 36th Battalion, AIF, in France. Allan kept his head down until 1917 when he was wounded not once but twice. However, with the wounds not too serious, he was sent back to continue in the action.
...his splendid action has greatly inspired the whole battalion.
Allan survived through fierce fighting to April 1918. It was here, at Villers-Brettoneaux, that Allan came to the notice of his superiors when, after actions on April 4 and 5 he was recommended for, and would receive, the Military Medal.
His citation read: “In counter-attack operations conducted by his battalion … when his company had advanced and were digging in, the exact location of the company on the left hand side was not known. All the officers of his company casualties, Cpl Brecht, on his own initiative, organised a patrol from his platoon and succeeded in gaining touch with the company on his flank. His timely action cleared up the situation …”
His father Ernest, living at Kelvin, could not wait to share the news. He advised residents in the Scone Advocate of September 20, 1918 (and presumably the Namoi Independent) that he “was in possession of a letter from Lieut-Colonel L J Moreshead, which states ‘It is with the greatest pleasure I offer my heartiest congratulations on the award of the Military Medal to your gallant son, an honour he richly deserves’.”
The medal was awarded in the presence of his comrades on the afternoon of June 21 in fields north-east of Villers-Brettoneaux.
Allan was not finished yet though. That same day he was in the fray again – coming to the attention of superiors in the 33rd Battalion, for a recommendation of the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation read, in part: “Observing two Germans seated in the enemy front line, he jumped into the trench with his officer … a struggle ensued in which the two Germans were killed. Three other Germans attracted by the noise rushed to their comrades’ assistance. Corpl Brecht bayonetted one of these and wounded another who ran away shouting for assistance. He then withdrew with his officer on approach of an enemy machine gun team … his splendid action has greatly inspired the whole battalion.”
Allan was wounded once more, again not seriously, and made it home in 1919, from where he went into farming with his father.
Allan had survived the machine gun and shrapnel lottery, coming home and living until 1976 – passing away in Gosford, as an old, well-seasoned and well-loved grandpa.