Captain Allen was born on 20 November 1884, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Arthur Smith Allen and Mrs. Ella Anita (Ruland) Allen. He attended New Bedford High School before his appointment to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, by Congressman William S. Green from Massachusetts in 1904. While a Midshipman he was Manager of the Basketball Team, rowed for four years, and won his class numerals for plebe crew. Graduated on 6 June 1908, he served his two years at sea, as then required by law, before he was commissioned Ensign to date from 6 June 1910. Thereafter he progressed in grade to the rank of Captain to date from 30 June 1936. On 1 August 1946, he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
After graduation from the Academy in 1908, Captain Allen was ordered to USS Montana, then fitting out at Norfolk, Virginia, and upon her commissioning, on 21 July 1908, he reported aboard. He continued service in that battleship until January 1909, when he transferred to USS Montgomery for duty until May 1909. For a year (1909-1910) he served in USS Dupont, after which, in June 1910, he assumed command of USS Bailey. During this assignment he participated in the early development of radio transmitters and receivers, and tested the first radio direction finder imported from France.
Relieved of command of the Bailey in August 1912, Captain Allen reported, in September, for duty in connection with fitting out USS Jarvis, at the Works of the New York Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Camden, New Jersey. He served in that vessel from her commissioning, on 22 October 1912 until June 1914, at which time he was assigned to the Industrial Department at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Virginia. In May 1916, he reported as Aide to the Commandant, Naval Stations, Olangapo and Cavite, Philippine Islands, and was also assigned duty in charge of the completion and placed into commission the high power radio station at Cavite, the final link in the first Naval trans-Pacific radio chain.
In November 1918, Captain Allen joined USS Kansas as Navigator, making five trans-Atlantic trips to bring troops back from Europe, after World War I, and in September 1919, he transferred in the same capacity to USS Florida. Detached from that battleship, he returned to the United States and between August 1920 and June 1923, served as an Instructor in the Department of Navigation at the Naval Academy. While attached to the Academy, he had temporary duty during the summer of 1921 aboard USS Kansas in connection with the Midshipmen's summer cruise.
Following service in USS Wyoming as Gunnery Officer, for which he received a Letter of Commendation from the Commander, Scouting Fleet, for the excellent work of the midshipmen in the target practice carried out by the Practice Squadron in 1924, Captain Allen returned, in September 1925, to the Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Officer in the Department of Navigation. On 25 June 1928, he assumed command of USS Stoddert, which was operating with the Thirty-Second Division of the Battle Fleet Destroyers. In that assignment he received a second Letter of Commendation for assisting in the high standing of that Division.
Relieved of command of the Stoddert on 1 May 1930, Captain Allen returned to the United States, and in July reported for instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Completing the course, in May 1931, he remained there on the staff until January 1933, when he assumed command of Destroyer Division FOURTEEN. Between May 1935 and August 1938 he was on duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, interspersed with a period of instruction, from August 1935 until June 1936 at the Army Industrial College, Washington, DC.
On 15 October 1938, Captain Allen reported aboard USS Salt Lake City as Commanding Officer and commanded that vessel until November 1940, when he was ordered to return to the United States. During December of that year he had temporary duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, and in February 1941 was assigned to the Singapore Straits Settlements as Naval Observer. From August 1941 to May 1942 he again had a tour of duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, after which he transferred to Headquarters, Commander in Chief, US Fleet, Navy Department.
Between April and October 1944, Captain Allen had duty in connection with convoy and routing matters in the Pacific, serving successively with the Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet, and Commander, Forward Area, Pacific, and during the latter part of this period established a shipping control office on Eniwetok, Marshall Islands. In October 1944, he was assigned to LION 6, a large advanced unit consisting of all the personnel and material necessary for the establishment of a major all-purpose naval base. It is made up of a large number of functional components which enables the base to perform voyage repairs and repair minor battle damage to a major portion of a fleet. He remained in that assignment until June 1945, when he joined the staff of Commander, Marianas. For his meritorious services in the Pacific, from May 1944 to November 1945, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and cited as follows:
LEGION OF MERIT:
"For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States as Shipping Control Officer on the Staff of Commander Forward Area Central Pacific and Commander Marianas from May 17, 1944, to November 13, 1945. Skillfully administering the routing, unlading and scheduling of vital merchant shipping, Captain Allen effectively aided in the support of the Western Carolines, Philippine, Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns as well as contributing in large measure to the efficient supply of essential materials to all forces in the Marianas area. His outstanding organizational ability and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
On 1 August 1946, Captain Allen was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
In addition to the Legion of Merit, Captain Allen had the Mexican Service Medal; the World War I Victory Medal, Escort Clasp; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the American Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. He had also been awarded the Order of the British Empire (Officer) from the Government of Great Britain in recognition of his services while serving in the Navy Department in building up the cooperation of the Convoy and Routing Policy and building up a successful Merchant shipping organization.