Other names: Arthur
Locations in this story: Shaftesbury, DorsetFrance & FlandersSouth AfricaMesopotamiaIndiaMelcombe Regis, Weymouth, DorsetWeymouth, Dorset
Story: Arthur Balch was born on 14 May 1879 in Shaftesbury, Dorset and baptised there on 18th July 1880. He was the son of William Balch and Mary Balch (née Highman). In 1891 the family was living in Parsons Pool in Shaftesbury. He had enlisted with the Royal Artillery as a Driver (Service No. 3776) on 18 Jan 1898 but was almost immediately transferred to the 16th Hussars on 22 Jan 1898 as a Private. He had served in South Africa and had been awarded various campaign and service medals including one for the Relief of Ladysmith. He went on reserve from 1905 and was called back for a short period between 1909 and 1910. In the meantime he had married Nellie Lodge in the Weymouth, Dorset, Registry area on 1 Jan 1907 and they set up home at 5 Walpole Street, Melcombe Regis, Weymouth, where they went on to have six children. He was mobilized again on 17 Jan 1914 as a Private with the Corps of Hussars (Service No. 47765). He served in both France & Flanders, Mesopotamia and India. Whilst serving in France he became the batman and groom to General Sir John French who was the Commander of the British Expeditionary Force until early 1915 when Sir John was relieved of his duties. Following the cessation of the war Arthur was eventually demobilized on 7 Dec 1919. He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals, the 1914/15 Star and the India Afghanistan North West Frontier Medal 1919. The census of 1921 shows the family living at 4 Walpole Street, Melcombe Regis, and Arthur was described as a Charabanc Driver for the Weymouth Motor Company. By the 1939 Register they were at the same address but Arthur was now Bus Inspector for Southern Buses. His death was recorded in Weymouth on 27 Sep 1960 and he was buried in Melcombe Regis Cemetery on 1 Oct 1960. Sources: Based on original research carried out by Ken Baxter for the exhibition "Shaftesbury and the Great War" at Gold Hill Museum in 2014.