2nd Lt Charles Vince Balkwill, 1st/5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)
Died 1st July 1916, aged 31
Born on 17 April 1885.
Son of Francis Balkwill and Mary Vince Balkwill (nee Jeffrey). Francis was a foreign fruit merchant of 6 Garlies Road, Forest Hill. They had at least five children:
- Francis Balkwill (b. 1876)
- Mary Emily Balkwill (b. 1877)
- Thomas Jeffrey Balwill (b. 1880)
- John Balkwill (b. 1883)
- Charles Vince Balwill (b. 1885)
He was educated privately by Mr. J.O. Boyes at 45 Houston Road, Forest Hill, and arrived at St. Dunstan’s in September 1895. He won a School Prize for Latin in 1898 and later became a Prefect. However, it was in the field of sport that he made his mark, being one of the best School athletes of his generation. In Lacrosse, he was goalkeeper and coverpoint for the 2nd XII (1897-98) and won his Colours; he went on to the 1st XII (1899-1900) and was Captain of Lacrosse 1900-01. He was equally distinguished in Cricket, being in the 2nd XI (1898-99) and the 1st XI (1900). But perhaps he was most outstanding in Rugby, captaining the 2nd XV (1897), joining the 1st XV (1899) and being Captain of Rugby (1900-01). His all-round ability led to his election onto the Athletic Committee in 1899, and he became Chairman in 1900.
He left the School in April 1901 but continued a close association via Old Dunstonian sport; he was in the Old Dunstonian Cricket XI 1905-06, and in the Forest Hill Cricket Club 2nd XI 1905-08. His Rugby progressed quickly and he began playing for the Catford Bridge 1st XV in 1903, continuing for some years and becoming Vice-Captain by 1907. He was selected for the Kent County XV in 1903, and played as a forward for six seasons.
He was also a member of the Blackheath Harriers and took part in their Wednesday meetings to run as part of his Rugby training.
On the outbreak of War in 1914 he enlisted in the ranks of the 5th London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade). He went to France with the 1st Battalion of the unit in November 1914 and was promoted Sergeant in the following month. On 26th April 1915 he fought with his unit at Wieltje and Neuve Chapelle, during the battle of Ypres, and was severely wounded. He was invalided home with a shattered right shoulder, but his fitness and his stay at the London Hospital led to a good recovery and by the end of the year he was playing Rugby for his Regiment.
He underwent a course of officer training, and was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion of the 5th London Regiment on 8th December 1915. A few months later he was passed fit and joined the 1st Battalion in France on 27th May 1916. He was killed in the attack on Gommecourt.
Sources: Tony Sharp & David Collett & St. Dunstan's College Roll of Honour 1914-19 & The War Record of the Northern Assurance Co. Ltd 1914-1918, Pam and Ken Linge, The Thiepval Project.