207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
The late John Grime DFC on David Balme DSO DFC
his fellow Flight Commander on 207 Squadron 5/43-1/44
I am very sorry that I only knew David Balme for such a small part of his distinguished life as a scholar and a wartime bomber pilot. I met David in May 1943 when I joined 207 Squadron.
Soon we were both deputy Flight Commanders of the two Flights. We became close friends as we helped with the continuation training of crews for operations, and in August he became Flight Commander of 'A' Flight. After his magnificent feats, including the trip to Turin and back on three engines, there was great concern when David was late returning from Berlin towards the end of his tour. We were all relieved when he appeared - again on three engines. Very soon afterwards the award of the DSO was notified in the afternoon of a Mess party at East Kirkby to which we had been invited; that was some party. David was a great and fearless flyer but was also one with a wonderful sense of humour.
We left 207 Squadron at about the same time, David to a job at Air Ministry, and me to instruct at the Heavy Conversion Unit at Winthorpe. We met again when he was at Balderton in 1945, forming a Squadron to join the Tiger Force in the Far Fast. I felt very honoured that he wanted me as a Flight Commander in his Squadron. Squib, my wife of not very many months, had other ideas, and David was not her favourite man. She soon changed her mind when she got to know him better. The problem was solved when we were all saved by the atom bomb.
I received a letter from David, out of the blue, in 1980 after he had been given my address by somebody who was researching a book about Peenemünde. He was very upset as it had been suggested that the raid was a disaster, which it was not the way either of us understood it to be.
We attended two of the Bomber Command reunions and met Margaret and him occasionally. They loved their home in the country but both missed their hunting, which David had to give up when he acquired a pacemaker. He was very much involved in the forming of the 207 Squadron Association, after the occasion at Northolt to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Wynford Vaughan-Thomas's recording of a raid on Berlin.
Our final meeting was to have been last summer  when David and Margaret were planning a visit to Haltwhistle in Northumberland - by chance Squib's home village - to walk some of the Roman Wall. We heard at Christmas that they had had a good holiday, but were distressed to hear of his state of health.
David will be sadly missed, not only by his family, but by all of his friends whether they be in the academic field, his ex-Royal Air Force comrades, or those with whom he enjoyed his hunting.