BALAAM, Anthony John

No.116172, Gunner, Anthony BALAAM
Aged 34

350th Siege Battery, Royal Artillery
Killed in Action on Friday, 16th November 1917

Anthony John Balaam was born in Sapiston in 1882, son of John and Charlotte BALAAM (née JARROLD).

1891 census...Aged 9, he was at The Drift, Sapiston with his father John BALAAM [40] woodman/hurdle maker born Hepworth; his mother Charlotte [40] born Stanton; sister Florrie [17] born Stanton; brother David [15] born Sapiston. He had a sister Alice (a school teacher) who married George William FULLER in 1895, for this census she was a patient at Suffolk General Hospital, Bury St.Edmunds.

1901 census...Aged 19, a hurdle maker, he was in Sapiston with his parents, sister Florence and brother David (hurdle maker).

1911 census...Aged 29, a hurdle maker, he was still in Sapiston with his parents, sister Florence and brother David.

The pension (1918) has the family still in Sapiston

His mother died in 1913

Enlisted in Ixworth.
He enlisted at Ixworth on 20th February 1916, giving his age as 23 years 2months, born and living in Sapiston. Next of kin, his father John. He was 5 feet 8.5 inches 174 cm) tall and chest 38"-41" (96.5 to 104.1 cm).
Placed on Reserves he was mobilised on 5th September 1916 and posted to Royal Garrison Artillery depot, joining 22 Company at Sheerness on 4th October. He was posted to the newly formed 350th Siege Battery on 17th January 1917. They were sent to join the BEF on 12th May 1917. Wounded slightly on 1st August but remained on duty. He was killed on 16th November 1917 in the Ypres salient.

His was the only death around that time in the battery, so probably a stray piece of shrapnel hit him, it does not look like a hit on the gun.

The Bury Free Press of 2nd March 1918 reported:-

The sad news thatGunner Anthony Balaam,R.G.A.,had been killed in France on November 16th last cast quite a gloom over the little village of Sapiston.The gallant soldier was a son of Mr. J. Balaam, farmer, etc.,and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. The deceased Gnr Anthony Balaam was 35 years of age. He joined up in September 1916, and was drafted out to the Western Front in April 1917. His cheery and reliable disposition won him the friendship of his comrades, who feel his loss very keenly. The following letters have been received by his sister:-
"Dear Miss Balaam-It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of your brother A.Balaam. The dug-out in which he was resting was struck by a shell. His death was free from pain, as he never recovered consciousness. As a battery we shall miss him very much. All the officers and men tender you their sincerest sympathy. He was in my section, and I must say that a quieter, hard working, loyal comrade it was impossible to get-With deepest sympathy, I am yours sincerely R.O.Griffith, 2nd Lieut R.G.A."

"Dear Miss Balaam, I feel I ought to write a few lines to you. I expect by now you have heard the sorrowful news about your brother. I am very sorry for you,, and I know all our sub section are; we used to look to him as being our strongest and one of the most straightforward men. I wasn't at the position when it happened but one of our men came and told me all about it yesterday. It appears that a shell was coming over and Anty and another poor fellow made for a dugout and ran right into it, as it fell just at the side. It didn't kill him instantly; he lived for about ten minutes, but he couldn't have felt anything of it. He was buried the next day, but to my sorrow I couldn't get to it as I am on another job; but I shall make it my business to go and see his grave and see that it is made up alright. I shall miss him very much, as we have been out together practically all our soldiering days - Yours sincerely H.Cray, Gnr"

A gun of the Australian 9.2-inch battery in action at Voormezeele, Belgium, in September 1917. E00694

Anthony Balaam is buried in Minty Farm Cemetery, grave 2:B:23

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