Ipswich: Pal’s picture inspired Frank’s poignant trip to his wartime grave

FRANK Alan still remembers the moment his brother-in-arms died in Normandy.

He had just arrived in France and was on the road to Cannes in 1944 when a sniper shot and killed his friend Doug Balaam, also from Ipswich.

To this day, the 87-year-old describes himself as “one of the lucky ones” – seeing action across Europe as the allied troops forced Hitler’s war machine further and further back to Germany.

Back home they were regarded as heroes, still remembered to this day.

But until recently it was a time Frank, of Temple Road, off Bixley Road, very rarely spoke of.

It was when he spotted a picture of Mr Balaam in the Star that the memories began to flood back, prompting him to travel to visit his friend’s grave in France.

“When I saw it after 67 years it was quite a shock because it was my pal,” he said.

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“I never said much about it until this last two or three years. When I saw the picture of Doug, my son said would it be a good idea to go over there.

“I think the photo in The Star actually pushed me to go.”

While visiting Doug’s grave, Frank also visited the grave of his friend Harry Perry, from Colchester, who also died during the conflict.

The trio all served in the Rifle Brigade and were 20-years-old when they first set foot in Normandy. He described seeing Mr Balaam’s grave as a very sombre moment.

He added: “It is very poignant. I felt like I was with him (Mr Balaam) again.”

Of the 30 men that saw action in Normandy from Mr Alan’s platoon, half had died by the time they reached Germany – most killed by snipers.

? Have you got a story to tell? What are your memories of the war? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN, or you can send an e-mail to starletters@archant.co.uk

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