The AIF Project


Regimental number2274
Place of birthBlythe, England
ReligionChurch of England
AddressSeventh Street, Weston, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation26
Height5' 7"
Weight133 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Margaret Balsdon, Seventh Street, Weston, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date27 September 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll13 September 1915
Place of enlistmentWest Maitland, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name30th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/47/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A67 Orsova on 11 March 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll30th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularEnlisted 27/9/15. Taken on strength, 30th Bn, 20/4/16.
FateDied whilst a Prisoner of War 1 September 1916
Place of death or woundingFromelles, France
Date of death19-20 July 1916
Age at death26
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Sisters: Miss B. BALSDON, Seventh Street, Weston, New South Wales; Mrs A.B. O'CONNOR, 42 Gipps Street, East Melbourne, Victoria
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Taken on strength, Ferry Post, Egypt, 20 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 16 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 23 June 1916.

Reported missing, 20 July 1916.

Form B103 (file p. 15) has notation: 'Died whilst prisoner of war in Germany. (Shown in List from German Government forwarded by American Embassy, Berlin.'

Red Cross File No 210901 has statement from 2063 Pte H.V.T. HODGINS, 25 August 1916: 'I knew Balsdon: he was a 4th Rft. in C. Co. and I saw his dead body on the night of the 19th. July, in No Man's Land at Fleurbaix, as I was getting back wounded. I had to pass right over his body and recognised him quite easily. His initial was J. but we always called him Joe. There were two other Balsdons who, I have been told, are wounded.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BALSDON James
Red Cross file 210901

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