Rifleman John Balfour



John Balfour was born on 3 October 1894 at Ardtonagh, Bellanaleck, County Fermanagh, son of farmer Samuel Balfour and domestic servant Anne McLoughlin.

By 1911 he was working as an assistant in a creamery.

He enlisted in the North Irish Horse in 1915 (the exact date and his regimental number are unknown at present).

In November 1916 Balfour, together with around 100 other North Irish Horsemen, volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. He was issued regimental number 40851. They embarked for France on 7 December, where they joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, on the Somme front.

On 16 August 1917 Balfour's battalion took part in the Battle of Langemarck, part of Third Ypres. The battalion war diary for the day listed 27 other ranks killed, 7 wounded and missing, 170 wounded, and 63 missing.

Rifleman Balfour was among the wounded.

Evacuated to the UK for treatment, Balfour recovered from his wounds and by March 1918 had been posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, serving at Randalstown.

He subsequently returned to the Royal Irish Rifles in France, possibly to the 2nd Battalion. During the final months of the war he was wounded once again.


Picture provided courtesy of Fiona Wright.