Prior to the forming of the RAF in 1918, the Army’s Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service operated military aircraft.
2nd Lieutenant Allan James Ballantyne, 19 and from Portsmouth, was serving with the Royal Flying Corps when he died on 10 November 1917. He is buried at Izel-les-Hameau War Cemetery in France some 15 kilometres west of Arras.
Ballantyne joined the Royal Flying Corps on 1 February 1917, and after passing through Flying School, Operational Conversion Units and 25 Reserve Squadron, on 4 July 1917 he joined 64 Squadron, who were flying DH4’s in the day-bomber role.
Ballantyne transferred to 94 Squadron on 14 September 1917, tasked with training Sopwith Camel Pilots. He then transferred to 46 Squadron on 5 November 1917, flying Sopwith Camel’s in the ground attack role.
His service record records that he died of wounds. Clearly only days after he joined 46 Squadron he was wounded in action. It’s uncertain where or how exactly Ballantyne was wounded, but 46 Squadron Association’s website records that during November 1917 they were heavily involved with supporting the Cambrai offensive.
There are 6 British servicemen buried in Izel-les-Hameau Cemetery, all but one of them of the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Air Force. As he died of wounds and Izel was far behind the front line in November 1917, it seems that Ballantyne died in a Hospital.
Ballantyne’s extremely young age, and his short but valiant service shows that the life expectancy of Pilots over the western front was not far removed from the ‘thirty-minuters’ sketch in Blackadder.