Captain Albert E Balchin MBE RA

There are a number of recipients of the Order of the British Empire in the Balchin Family and this article is about the medals which tell the story of one of them Albert E (probably Edward) Balchin who served in both the first and second World Wars.

Albert Edward joined the Army as a Private in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1915 and first fought at the front in France on the 2nd June of that year.    He received a gunshot   wound in the right thigh just over a year later on the 7th June 1916, was promoted to sergeant probably at that time and in March 1917 returned to England to begin officer cadet training at Oxford. He was Gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant later in 1917 in the Leicester Regiment, promoted to Lieutenant in 1918 and demobbed in that rank in May 1919. The London Gazette of 12th December 1921 states that he was ‘permitted to resign his commission for the purpose of re-joining the Regular Army’ (his Leicester Regiment appointment being presumably for the duration of hostilities).   He re-enlisted on 18th October 1923 in the Royal Artillery and a day later was recorded as being at the Regiment’s garrison at Woolwich.  He remained in the regular Army and was actively engaged as a Gunner officer throughout the second World War. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 21st January 1943 and was still on the Army List in 1945 to celebrate Victory in Europe.   He well deserved his eight medal entitlement depicted here.   These are:

  • The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire MBE (Military Division) This is the second type, issued after 1937 and its pink and grey ribbon has an extra central stripe denoting military service. It shows the heads of King George V and his Consort Queen Mary.
  • The 1914-15 Star (R5209 Private Balchin)
  • The British War Medal 1914-20 Silver (2nd Lieutenant A.E. Balchin)
  • The Victory Medal 1919 (2nd Lieutenant A.E Balchin)
  • The 1939-45 Star
  • The Defence Medal 1945
  • The War Medal (1939-45)
  • The Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, George VI issue (1st type which was issued from 1937 to 1948 and bore the words ‘Indiae Imp’, Emperor of India, a title dropped by the King in 1948.) With Regular Army bar.

The Order of the British Empire was instituted by King George V in 1917 to recognise service by non-combatants during the first World War and a Military Division was created in 1918 to encompass distinguished service in action by officers and warrant officers of the Royal Navy and the Army (including the Royal Flying Corps, later the RAF). Those first issued (1917-37) showed an image of Britannia and were worn from a deep purple ribbon, later, as mentioned above, this was changed to pink and grey, by command of Queen Mary.   This ribbon is still in use today.

These medals trace the military life of a dedicated Regular Army officer who survived a serious wound in the trenches to serve his country again in the war against Nazi Germany.   I would like to find out more about this member of the Balchin family and hope that readers may be able to help me !

by Sir Robert Balchin (Lord Lingfield)