Three Score Years and Twenty
By Walter C Balmford
Published by Arcadia/Scholarly
RRP $29.95 in Paperback • ISBN 9781925801774
This book was not really intended to see the light of day as a publication for general readership. Walter Balmford wrote this memoir for those of his descendants who might be interested in his life. He was concerned that his remarks about living people might cause distress. He wrote those words in 1976.
More than forty years later, his son John Balmford, together with his late brother Peter, circulated copies more widely, because of what they perceived would be considerable historical interest in two periods of their father’s life: his time in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force during World War One and his working life in Australia until his retirement in 1958.
He recounts in some detail his time in the Royal Flying Corps. His memory of events of nearly sixty years earlier (at the time of writing) is quite remarkable. He was helped in this task of memory by his carefully preserved log book.
His most exciting wartime moment came when a Red Baron squadron member shot down his plane over northern France in 1917. With a bullet hole in his windscreen, the plane’s joystick useless, and his gunner Corporal Elliott badly wounded, Walter managed to fly the plane back across the front lines and land it safely near an Australian gun battery. His gunner, whom he credits with saving his life, lost a leg as a result of enemy fire.
After the war, Walter became an actuary and migrated with his wife and two sons to Australia. He became the Commonwealth Actuary ─ a position now known as the Australian Government Actuary ─ working closely with the Treasurer (later Prime Minister) J.B. Chifley: the two became friends.
This is a very personal memoir intended for a family audience.
However I am sure readers interested in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force during World War I will find the story of his service in Europe to be of great interest.