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Spitfire pilot added to ranks of The Few after nearly 80 years

Battle of Britain Memorial Trust

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent

A Spitfire pilot has been posthumously added to the ranks of The Few in a rare occasion nearly 80 years after the Battle of Britain.

Sergeant James Eric William Ballard has now been added to the famed number of people who fought in the air battle in 1940.

So desperate was the need for fighter pilots as German planes attacked the UK in the Second World War that Sgt Ballard had only nine hours of flying time before joining 610 (County of Chester) Squadron.

Now, eight decades later, The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust has welcomed new recognition of his role in the air battle.

It follows the discovery of his logbook, which shows an operational sortie flown on October 8, 1940, a flight that was confirmed by the signatures of his commanding officer and flight commander.

Group Captain Patrick Tootal, OBE, Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, said: “The research goes on and even 80 years later we learn new things about the Battle of Britain.

“It is rare to be able to add a new name to the list of those who took part, especially a Spitfire pilot. Sergeant Ballard’s contribution to the battle was relatively small but without him and men like him, the RAF could not have achieved its victory.”

After the Battle of Britain ended, Sgt Ballard continued to serve with his squadron and was killed in action, aged 23, on 27 August 1941 during an operation over Europe.

His body was not found and his name appears on the Air Forces Runnymede memorial overlooking the River Thames in Surrey.

After the war ended, Sgt Ballard’s mother was recorded as living in Tooting, south London.

The names of all the Allied aircrew known to have flown in the Battle are listed on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, just outside Folkestone in Kent.