ID: WWK_DAB / Tony Millatt

TitleDerek Anthony Balls - Gloucestershire Regiment
AbstractMemorial Profiles for East and West Mersea

L/Cpl. Service No. 22530139
D Company 1 Gloucestershire Regiment

Born 18 May 1927
Died 23 April 1951
Commemorated East Mersea War Memorial, West Mersea War Memorial, United Nations Memorial Wall, Tanggok, Pusan, Korea, and in 2020 with a Memorial soldier on the east side of Mersea Strood.

Derek Balls in West Mersea football team 1949-50

Derek was the son of George S. Balls, who was born c1896 at Blyford, Suffolk, and married Lilian M. Smith at Blything Suffolk, around July 1922.
Derek was born around June 1927 at Blything - he had two older sisters, Joyce Evelyn and Phyllis M. Balls.
In 1951 Derek was living at Hall Farm Cottages, East Mersea, as was his mother. His father George S. Balls is registered at Hall Farm. Probate was granted after Derek's death to 'Lilian Maud Balls (wife of John Sidney Balls)'. This is perhaps a mistake and should read George Sidney Balls.
The 1955 Register of Electors shows George and Lilian Balls, both living at Hall Farm Cottages. George died in 1960 and Lilian in 1966, both in the 'Colchester area'.

Derek had been in the Regular Army, came back to East Mersea to work on the farm, but then went back into the Army.

Derek was killed Battle of Imjin River in the Korean War. In early April 1951, the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Register was part of a United Nations force under command of the United States 3rd Infantry division defending 9 mile long Line Kansas along the Imjin River. After dark on 22nd April, the Chinese with some 27,000 men launched the Spring Offensive designed to eliminate the United Nations Force. The UN Force was heavily outnumbered, the fighting was hard and casualties heavy. By the 25 April the remaining force withdrew. The Glosters had lost 56 men killed and 522 taken prisoner by the Chinese.

Derek is recorded as having been killed on 23rd April.
The prisoners did not return to England until 1953, having been badly treated in Prisoner of War camps.

The Glosters' stand had plugged a large gap in the front on Line Kansas which would otherwise have left the flanks vulnerable. General James Van Fleet, commander of the US Eighth Army, described the stand as "the most outstanding example of unit bravery in modern war", and in a letter to General Ridgeway, commander-in-chief of UN forces in Korea, he wrote that "the loss of 622 officers and men saved many times that number".


AuthorTony Millatt
SourceMersea Museum