Family’s pride over soldier whose name is to be commemorated on memorial

James Frank Ballard
James Frank Ballard

The descendants of a soldier killed in action in the First World War have spoken of their pride over his name set to be placed on a new memorial in France.

Valerie Mignall, 65, read about the appeal from the Royal Sussex Regiment in last week’s Observer to provide a new monument in Priez to commemorate soldiers from 1066 Country and the rest of Sussex who lost their lives in the conflict.

Currently 22 soldiers are to be honoured on the memorial who died 100 years ago in Priez on September 10, 1914, marking the regiment’s first losses. But the regiment wants the new memorial, which will be unveiled next month, to eventually commemorate all of its 7,302 soldiers who died in the First World War, and two of the names set to appear are those of soldiers James Frank Ballard, 28, of Grove Road, and 22-year-old John William Kember, of Castle Hill Road, who both died on September 14, 1914.

Mrs Mignall, who lives in Crowhurst and is the great niece of Pte Ballard, said: “My great uncle came from a large family and although had no children himself there are many descendants of him, some of them I know still living locally.

“I am proud to be his great niece and remember him particularly on this 100th anniversary. On behalf of James Frank Ballard’s family we would love to see him honoured in this way as his body was never recovered.”

Paul Ballard, Pte Ballard’s great-great nephew, has researched the history of his ancestor extensively and chronicled the soldier’s life history.

James Frank Ballard was born on May 1, 1886 at 216 Harold Road, and was one of 12 children born to William Albert Ballard and his wife Mary Ann who came from the old Hastings fishing family of Stonham.

He initially worked as a stable helper. Later he joined the 1st Cinque Port Voluntary Rifles and then signed up as Private L/8245 with the Royal Sussex Regiment on July 12, 1905.

Following basic training he served in the UK but was quickly posted with the regiment to Malta in October 1905 and then Crete in April 1906 and finally on October 17, 1907 he shipped out to India. Pte Ballard was recorded in the 1911 census as a company cook of the 1st Royal Sussex Regiment, aged 24. He received two Good Conduct Badges, one in 1907 and one in 1910.

Pte Ballard’s service in India saw him stationed on the north west frontier at Rawalpindi, a location to which three of his brothers, William, George and Harold, would be posted in the First World War. He was released to the reserve on March 21, 1913 at Gosport, Hampshire.

Pte Ballard had very little time to enjoy civilian life and was recalled to active service at the outbreak of war in August 1914.

The Royal Sussex Battalion War Diary records the final movements of Pte Ballard in the 2nd Battalion. He died on September 14, 1914 at the Battle of the Aisne, Troyon, France, aged 28.

He was wounded in action and died of his wounds after being taken to a field hospital. Pte Ballard’s grave was lost as a result of subsequent war activities. His name is commemorated on the memorial at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre in France.

Anyone with relatives concerning service in the Royal Sussex Regiment in the First World War, should get in touch at or call Nigel Taggart on 01243 699881 if they have any information or photographs relating to the fallen.