Bridge of Weir

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Second Lieutenant George James Balfour

6th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
att 4th Northumberland Fusiliers

killed in action 15th September 1916

aged 19

Delville Wood Cemetery
Ranfurly Church Memorial, Bridge of Weir
The High School of Glasgow Memorial
Ranfurly Castle Golf Club Memorial
Kilbarchan Cemetery

Son of Andrew Balfour and Margaret Newhall Frew
Rostrevor, Bridge of Weir

His Life

George James Balfour was born on 14th July 1897 in 49 Sardinia Street, Hillhead, Glasgow, the third in the family of Andrew Balfour, a well-known Glasgow architect and Margaret Newhall Frew, also from Glasgow, who had married in Govan on 10th June 1890. Andrew Balfour's practice, initially in partnership with Harry Steele, was at 110 Mains Street, (now Blythswood Street) in Glasgow and had a substantial portfolio prior to the war including Largs Parish Church, a number of schools, Pollokshields Congregational Church, and The Quinta, Bridge of Weir (the home of Harry Steele). Their 1899 competition entry for Lintwhite School, Bridge of Weir was, however, unsuccessful.

In 1891 Andrew (28), Maggie (23), and their one month old son Andrew were living in 6 Vinicombe Street, Partick, Glasgow. Agnes McGhie (13) from Dunoon was their domestic servant.

In 1901 the Balfours, now with three children Andrew, Margaret and George (3) were living in 49 Cecil Street, Kelvinside, Glasgow. The family employed a 28 year old English girl, Patricia Dowie as a general servant.

By 1911 the family had moved to Rostrevor, a nine-roomed house in Kilbarchan Road, Bridge of Weir. Andrew was an apprentice chartered accountant. George (13) was of an age when he was most probably attending the High School of Glasgow. Helen MacIlwain (31) from Govan was their domestic servant.

On leaving school he joined Nobel's Ltd. At the outbreak of war he enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry in mid-September 1914 and received his commission one year later. Second Lieutenant Balfour was sent to the front line in France in July 1916, attached to the 4th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers which formed part of 149 Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. He was killed in action on 15th September 1916 when the battalion took part in its first large scale attack in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, within the Somme offensive. It was significant for the first use of the tank in warfare. He was 19.

A senior officer's letter to George's father reads; "Your son fell gallantly leading his men in an attack in which they did magnificently and it will be little consolation to you to know that his life was not sacrificed in vain. He is buried on the battlefield where he fell."

His grave is in Delville Wood Cemetery. Delville Wood was a tract of woodland, nearly 1 kilometre square, the western edge of which touched the village of Longueval. The Battle of Delville Wood was a fierce 3 month engagement in the Somme Offensive in which four Victoria Crosses were awarded for gallantry. It was finally secured for the Allies on 3rd September 1916.

George's older brother Andrew Campbell Balfour saw considerable service with the Highland Light Infantry. He was twice mentioned in despatches and on 2nd June 1917 he was mentioned in the despatches of Sir Douglas Haig. He was awarded the 1914 Mons Star and in June 1918, the Military Cross. He survived the war, married Elspeth Nicholl, was enjoying a successful career as a company secretary but died of acute bronchitis and acute pneumonia on 13th April 1925, just 34 years old. He died in his parents' home in Bridge of Weir.

The parents lived longer but Maggie experienced a double loss in November 1943 when, 8 days after her husband died, her 19 year-old grandson Alistair was killed in action.


1891 Census 1901 Census 1911 Census Birthplace
Name Age Name Age Name Age
Andrew C1 mo Andrew C10Andrew C20Glasgow, Lanark
Margaret N7Margt N17 Glasgow, Lanark
George J3Geo J13 Glasgow, Lanark


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