James Pitts (1924 – 2017) and Stanley Ballard (1923 – 2021) at the Soviet War Memorial in London on 9 May 2014
We learnt about the departure of another dear member of our community – a veteran of the Second World War Stanley Ballard (1923 – 2021) who visited us in Cambridge a couple of times in the last years. In 2015 Stan took part in the “Evening of History and Memories” where he shared memories of his war experiences and gave interviews to local students as part of The Arctic Convoys filming project in 2017. Stan, who turned 98 on 21 June, passed away in a care home in Surrey on Monday, 28 June.
Stan was born in Pimlico, Westminster. On 21 June 1941, he joined the Royal Navy and became a leading seaman in the submarine detection service (ASDICS) onboard HMS Southdown Destroyer in 1941 and later HMS Cotton in 1943, which took part in the Arctic convoys. He was part of the convoy to Iceland and then to Russia in 1945.
Stan was a man of great wit and artistic talent. He enjoyed singing and was a lead voice at all veterans’ gatherings, where “The Way We Were” was one of his favourites. He loved poetry and left us with some memorable and moving pieces, such as these:
In life, some of us go through hell and come back for a brand new start
Full of love from the zest of love we have to really start
But people being people, with hearts full of love
And love is something that comes from the heart and brain
So you have to re-start the motor and revive it once again
If you are really lucky and get a second start
Make sure you make most of it, love so full in your heart
There are people in this world today who know not what love is
They are most unfortunate; they know not what love is
There are many forms of love in this life that we live
Of personal things, but the best by far is love for one another
If you have not known this love than life is not complete
What tells us what makes this love we keep within our heart
This love, warm and so full of life, it makes us ten feet tall.
If you have not this love life is incomplete
This life of ours is so short, every precious day we should count
I have seen so many things in this long life I cannot believe
With your background of love instilled in you son, by a family so full of love
And you and I must say “Thank God” for another day…
(an abstract from “The Black Vase” dedicated to his son. September 2007)
Should I find a heaven that I could choose
I would leave this world behind me
Though good friends I would lose.
I would take with me your loving heart
Your eyes, your lips so true
And though all the years without a fear
We would have our dreams come true.
And though this Heaven lays beyond my schemes
Take cheer and guard your heart
For we will make one of our dreams
If you will play your part.
For it is surely in our means
So let us make a start.
Stan was featured in our VE-75 presentation (page 6).
You can find Stan singing (from 38:50 to 40:20) in the closing scene in The Last Witness film project created for HMS Belfast by Tim Lewin.