THE funeral will take place this week of a Second World War veteran from York who took part in some of the most famous episodes of the conflict.
Douglas Balding died in York Hospital earlier this month aged 95. He survived Dunkirk, served with the Desert Rats under Field Marshal Montgomery and saw action across Europe and North Africa.
Mr Balding – known as Doug – was a well-known figure in Huntington where he was a committed member of the Working Men’s Club for decades.
Born and brought up in Birmingham, the sixth of eight children, Mr Balding joined the army in 1936, against the wishes of his First World War veteran father.
After training at York’s Imphal Barracks he was posted to Reims, in northern France, with the British Expeditionary Force.
It was during his time in York that Doug met his wife Muriel, and the couple married in April 1941 at Sutton-on-Forest.
During the war, Mr Balding was involved in the retreat at Dunkirk and saw action in North Africa and across Europe.
He returned to the UK in 1946 and was given an honourable discharge from the army in 1948.
Back in England, he and Muriel lived in York and Mr Balding worked for City of York Council, as a taxi driver, and with Rentokil and Portakabin before he retired in 1979. The couple had two sons, Douglas and Stephen. Muriel died in 2010.
Mr Balding served on the committee at Huntington Working Men’s Club for 42 years, and supported it until the end of his life.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour in October last year, he still visited the club for his daily pint until he was admitted to hospital in December.
Mr Balding was also involved with the annual village walk and horticultural shows, and was a long-time member of the Royal British Legion, laying a wreath at Huntington War Memorial every Remembrance Sunday until 2008.
Grandfather of four and great-grandfather of eight, his family remember Mr Balding for his stories about the war and the people he met.
Daughter-in-law Jenny Balding said: “He was always the joker with all the family, despite his illnesses over the years, and made us all proud. He drove a Mercedes convertible until mid 2013 which gave him a great deal of enjoyment. It was his pride and joy.
She said: “Losing Doug leaves such a gap in the lives of all that knew him, especially his family and close friends. We are all so grateful for having him in our lives for so long.”
A funeral will take place on Thursday, at 11am at All Saints’ Church, Huntington, followed by private cremation at York Crematorium. Family flowers only. Donations in lieu to the Royal British Legion.