BALLS, Frederick James

No.67517, Gunner, Frederick James BALLS
Aged 27

25th Div. Ammo. Col., Royal Field Artillery
Died in Captivity on Friday, 23rd August 1918

Frederick James Balls was born on 21st September in Freckenham (Mildenhall Q3-1891 4A:751), son of James Taylor and Ruth Halls BALLS (née LAITE).

1901 census...Aged 9, he was at Woollard's Yard, Youngman's Lane , West Row with his father James BALLS [35] farm labourer born Mildenhall; his mother Ruth [33] born Mildenhall; brothers William [8], Frank [6], Edward [4] all born Freckenham and John [2] born Mildenhall; sister Susan E [9 months] born Mildenhall.

1911 census...Aged 19, horse keeper, he was at West Row with his parents; brothers William, Francis, Edward (farm labourers), John, George [5] and Stanley [1]; sister Susan Esther [10]. 2 siblings had died.

When his brother John enlisted in 1916 they were at Ferry Corner, West Row. On the CWGC family verification form sent to his father after his death, their address was "near The Plough, West Row", which ties in with the entry on the pension card.

His younger brother John served in the West Yorkshire Regiment and was killed in action in Belgium in 1918 see here

Frederick enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds. "Soldiers Died" have him as dying in Germany (sic). His medal index card says he was a prisoner of war, Germany 27th May 1918, which is entered on his "Soldiers Effects" entry (Nord Camp, Vessigny). His German PoW record shows his date of birth as 21st September 1891. He died of a heart attack in the prison camp at Versigny and was buried there. It does not say where he was captured.

Previously buried in Versigny German Cemetery, he is now commemorated in Chauny, marked by headstone #16, by a Kipling Special Memorial "E" (a Duhallows Block). These blocks take their name from the first used at Duhallows Cemetery in Ypres and are used where graves were lost by later battles and the bodies could no longer be identified. In Frederick Balls' case, the inscription on the block reads:- "To the memory of these 7 British soldiers, killed in action in July and August 1918, and buried at the time in Versigny German Military Cemetery, whose graves are now lost" "Their glory shall not be blotted out". The date on the CWGC forms are 22nd and the 23rd of August ?. There were three British burials in that cemetery.

The Bury Free Press of 21st December 1918 reported:-

Official news has been received by Mr. and Mrs. James Balls, of West Row, Mildenhall, that their eldest son, 67517, Gunner F.Balls, has died in the hands of the enemy. The information came as a great shock to the relatives and friends of the deceased who was (sic) daily looking for his return.
The deceased soldier, who was captured on May 27th of this year, joined the Army on December 26th 1914, being sent to France the following September, where he served without a scratch.
The German official report states that the deceased soldier was buried at Versigny, while a fellow prisoner (who has since died ) wrote that he died at 3 am on August 23rd and was buried at Friezing Court.
Mr.and Mrs.Balls have two other sons with the colours, 139840 Pte F.T.Balls, who is also a prisoner of war at Merseburg, and 13678 Pte. W.Balls, who is with the Suffolks in Egypt. They have, unfortunately,now lost two sons in the war, Pte John Balls having been killed on February of this year


photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Frederick Balls is buried in Chauny Communal Cemetery Extension, Spec.Mem. 16
and commemorated on the West Row war memorial.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details