Any connection of a milk bottle with 1944 preparations for D-Day? –  Professor Tom Balchin

Tom found the following account by William Brooks, the general secretary of East Wittering Local History Group, about some allied 1944 preparations for D-Day. Allied troops practising for the Normandy landings by invading Ray Balchin’s land H-Hour.

The dawn was as monochrome as an old family portrait. Chill drizzle and dull grey light had welcomed the dim silhouettes of battleships, cruisers, transports and rocket ships as they rode the incoming tide toward the foreshore. The overburdened men began to clamber down the scrambling nets into their pitching assault craft below as a strong westerly whipped the shallows into a frenzy. The periphery of their vision detailed the invasion bay, brilliantly lit by flares and flashes of every hue, and engulfed on the flanks by dense clouds of billowing smoke. Into the chest-deep waters they plunged, navigating a maze of offshore steel and wood obstacles as they did so. Hot on the heels of their advancing tank platoon, the men of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment pushed in on their first objective: a local farmhouse. With sudden force the front door to the property swung open to reveal Mr. Ray Balchin, owner of Culimores Farm, to the bewilderment of the invaders. Having watched his beloved hedges get ripped to pieces by the mechanised onslaught, Mr. Balchin decided he could stand by no longer. A torrent of profanity-laden abuse rained down upon the dumbstruck squadron like proverbial machine gun fire. After several seconds of silent astonishment, one infantryman replied “Thank Christ… You’re English!”. These were, in fact, not the beaches of Normandy. This was Bracklesham in West Sussex, May 1944. This scene belongs to Exercise Fabius, rather than Operation Overlord, which would be launched a mere 33 days later. The six Fabius exercises conducted in May 1944 constituted the greatest amphibious military operation in history at the time, with ‘Force J’, as it was codenamed, assigned to ‘invade’ Bracklesham during Fabius III. The Force was comprised chiefly of elements from the Canadian 7th and 8th Brigades, along with extensive support from the Royal Navy.

Now for the connection with the milk bottle found online. Photographs and the full story can be found in Issue 59 of The Balchin family Newsletter January2024 a, which says: BALCHINS CULIMORES FARM WEST WITTERING 2157 HOME FARM has also been found by Tom Balchin. Raymond Balchin, born 1896, can be found on the 1921 census in West Wittering.


Joseph Moss Balchin 1777 – 1854 and Mary his Daughter 1815 – 1851E J (Ted) Balchin

A study of the Walker tree of the Balchin Family leads one to believe that Joseph spent his life in a career in the 6th Dragoons; but current research shows that this is not so.

Joseph Moss Balchin was born in 1777, the only son of the marriage between Elizabeth Barker and John Balchin, Gentleman Farmer of Westcott and Cobham. John Balchin was the 4x great- grandfather of Jenny Dixon and myself. He had two wives; the first wife, Ann Sparkes, died shortly after giving birth to a son that was named Richard. John Balchin remained a widower with his son for three years; he is described by John Walker as being ‘rich in the world’s goods’; and in 1773 another marriage was arranged with Elizabeth Barker.


A Plumstead Mystery – Roy Balchin

23rd June 1916, and Frances Elizabeth Cape was to die because there was no supper for Charles Balchin – but was it murder?

There must have been many times when Charles Balchin stood in the dock be{ore Justice Lawrence when his thoughts turned to the cost of losing his temper on the night of Friday the 23rd of June 1916.

The quiet Plumstead street in South London had, on that fateful night, resounded with cries for the police and a doctor. Upstairs at number 6 Bassant Road the body of Frances Elizabeth Cape lay cold and bloody in her bed. Charles Balchin of that address was charged with her murder. The evidence was to show that she was to die because there was no supper for him on that evening of madness.

. . . Charles Balchin was found Guilty of Manslaughter, and sentenced to six month’s hard labour.


Balchins as Innkeepers – Professor William Balchin

Founder members of the Society will recollect that two previous articles in the Newsletter have dealt with occupational activities of the Balchins. The first of these was in Issue 2 of July 1995, where an analysis of the information in the John Walker tree was attempted, and the second is in Issue 4 of July 1996 where a current membership questionnaire was analysed.