Joined: 10 Dec 2014
Location: Fife and London
|Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 2:37 pm Post subject: Captain (Acting Major) James Alfred Balfour - Markinch
|Captain [Acting Major] James Alfred Balfour
1st Bn, Highland Light Infantry
Killed in action 11 January 1917 at Kut-El Amara, Mesopotamia aged 38
Commemorated on Amara War Cemetery
Born at Balbirnie, 6 February 1879, son of Brigadier Sir Alfred Granville Balfour, KBE, CB, 1858-1936, and Lady Frances Elizabeth Balfour nee Simpson, 1862-1936, of 3 Eaton Gate, London SW1. Brigadier General Balfour had been the Commandant of the Royal Military School of Music and a Vice President of the Royal Academy of Music and served in the 71st HLI, after 1881 the 1st Bn HLI.
Married to Marie Frederica Vandeleur, second daughter of Colonel John Ormsby Vandeleur, CB, late Rifle Brigade and Mrs Vandeleur of Winchester at Colinton on 20 March 1916. She died in 1953.
Grandson of Colonel John Balfour, 7th of Balbirnie. Brother of the Art Deco book illustrator Ronald Egerton Balfour. Cousin of John and Robert F Balfour who are also commemorated in Markinch Parish Church.
Obituary from the April 1917 edition of the Highland Light Infantry Chronicle:
It is with very deep sorrow to those of us who knew him, and to all who knew his father, to hear that Captain J A Balfour was reported missing on 19 January 1917. This news was followed, only too soon, by the confirmation of his death.
Captain J A Balfour was the son of Brigadier General A G Balfour, CV, who joined the 71st in 1879 and served in the Regiment until 1906. He was born at Balbirnie, Fife, on 6 February 1889, and was educated at New Beacon Seven Oaks, HMS Worcester and at the RMA Woolwich, where he was a Sergeant in the Infantry Company. Except when at school, nearly the whole of his life, until 1906, was spent in the Regiment. He was gazetted to the HLI in 1909, and after spending a few months in the 2nd Battalion in Ireland, joined the 1st Battalion in India in November of the same year, and served with this Battalion continuously until his death, except for a short period in 1911 when he was ADC to the Lieut Governor of the United Provinces. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1912, and Captain in 1915. Captain AJ Balfour married, in 1916, Marie, daughter of the late Colonel Vandeleur, CB, Rifle Brigade.
Being the son of his father, Jim was made immediately welcome in our midst. But it was his own personality and charm of manner that won him our affections. Major Leckie Ewing, in writing of him, says that he never saw men of a Company so keen on their Company Commander as his were of him. This I can well believe. Jim had the fit, born in all leaders of men, of thoroughly understanding the private soldier and getting the very best out of him. He never asked a man to do anything that he would not do himself. He took, too, a leading part in all the games and sports in the Battalion, and was the best “dismounted officer at arms” at the Lucknow Divisional Assault at Arms, and was second in the Durbar Military Tournament in 1911, which was open to the whole of India.
But it is as a friend and companion that Jim will be most missed by those of us who knew him best. He was one of those delightful people who always looked for and found the best in everything and everybody. I have never known a more thorough optimist. However dark the horizon, Jim was bright and cheerful, and always had a smile or joke about something. During the Indian hot weather, or later, in the mud and rain, Jim would always keep us laughing and cheer our jaded spirits with his stories and antics. Never once have I know him out of spirits or out of temper. Generous to an extreme, there was nothing that he would not do for any of his friends, quite irrespective of the trouble and inconvenience to himself. Like all generous and warm hearted people, he had one fault- tht he was rather to apt to act first and think afterwards. Still, the world would be none the worse if there were many more like him.
Of his death, one can gather no authentic information. He is believed to have fallen 10 yards inside the Turkish wire after having emptied his revolver. It seems cruel that he should have fallen thus, having been through so much. For he had come with the Battalion from India to France, from where he had been twice invalided after having seen severe fighting. The Lieut Colonel who at present commands the – Battalion, writes: ‘He died as all who knew him would have expected – fighting to the last like a gallant officer of the Battalion that he loved so well and was so proud to belong to. He was loved by us all, and we greatly miss his cheery presence amongst us. The Corps Commander was much pained to hear of his being missing. I know that he had a very high opinion of him, and had marked him for special responsibility.’ To the Regiment his loss will be irreparable. His love of the Regiment and his knowledge of its customs and traditions would have been invaluable in the remodelling that must come at the conclusion of the war.
He had been appointed “Acting Major” some weeks before the action, and was actually Second in Command of the Battalion on the day of his death.”