Born in St Petersburg, the young Allan was sent to Germany in 1912 to work in the textile trade. During the First World War he served with the British Intelligence Services. Escaping from Russia after the Revolution, Allan spent a year travelling in the United States, Central and South America, before returning to Germany in 1922 to pursue his career in the textile industry. After several years working for the chemical group Bayer in India, Allan returned to Europe to marry Marie Retteré in 1925. His work then took him to Australia and New Zealand, where his son Peter Gerald Allan was born in 1926, and back to India. Photography was Allan's favourite hobby (he amassed a collection of over 50 cameras) and in 1929 he was invited to undertake photographic work for Agfa in Cairo, one of Bayer's subsidiaries. From Agfa, Allan moved to Green's Commercial Agencies, taking over the Photographic, Electrical and Cinema departments. In his spare time Allan explored the Sinai Desert and visited St Catherine's Monastery, where he photographed most of its considerable treasures (some of his photographs were published in 'Sinai' by Heinz Skrobucha (London, 1966)). In 1938 Allan accompanied Tony Howard Jones on a survey of the western desert of Egypt and he seems to have been further involved with British Intelligence at various other times during his career. During the Second World War Allan took charge of the British Forces' purchases of radio transmitters and receivers, cinematic and other equipment from Green's. The immediate post-war years were successful ones for Green's, with Allan heading up the Engineering division. Following the Suez crisis of 1956, Allan was forced to leave Egypt, losing virtually everything, and he subsequently settled in London. He died in 1960. In addition to his interest in photography, Allan enjoyed shooting and fishing, and was a keen collector of tropical fish.
Taken in Egypt, Sinai, the Red Sea, Sudan, Palestine, Ravenna etc.
Given by Marie and Peter Allan (BA 1947), 1996.