No.60196, Private, John BALLS
Aged 19

2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales' Own)
Killed in Action on Friday 22nd February 1918

John Balls was born in West Row in 1899 (Mildenhall Q3-1891 4A:751), son of James Taylor and Ruth Halls BALLS (née LAITE).

1901 census...Aged 2, 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 Frederick [9] William [8], Frank [6], Edward [4] all born Freckenham ; sister Susan E [9 months] born Mildenhall.

1911 census...Aged 12, horse keeper, he was at West Row with his parents; brothers Frederick (horse keeper), William, Francis, Edward (farm labourers), George [5] and Stanley [1]; sister Susan Esther [10]. 2 siblings had died.

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

His elder brother Frederick served in the Royal Field Artillery and died in captivity in France in 1918 see here

John attested in Bury St.Edmunds on 2nd March 1916. He was mobilised on 31st May 1917 at Newmarket. He gave his age as 18 yrs 5 months, was 5 feet 5.5 inches (165.1 cm) tall, weighed 121 lbs (54.9 kg), chest 37" to 39.5" (94 to 100.3 cm).
Placed in 3rd Training Reserve Battalion, he was transferred to 5th TR on 18th August 1917, then the 11th TR on 15th September. Transferred to 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on 30th November 1917. Embarked at Southampton for Boulogne on 18th January 1918 and joined his unit in the field on 22nd January 1918 but killed in action one month later.
His personal effects sent to his mother at Ferry Corner were Letter, Photos and photo case, cap badge and a comb.
On the living family form completed by his mother on 13th August 1919, his direct blood relatives living were all at Near the Plough, West Row, Mildenhall - his parents, brothers William [26], Frank [24], George [14] and Stanley [10] and sister Susan Esther [19].

According to the battalion war diary, the 21st February was spent at Passchendaele carrying out an inter company relief due to bad weather 50 O.R. were brought up from details to construct wire defences in front of support positions. On the 22nd the battalion was in the trenches, weather still dull

CWGC have 7 of the battalion killed on the 22nd.

In his regimental uniform...and in his bandsman's uniform

John Balls is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, panels 42 to 47 and 162
and on the Mildenhall war memorial

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