The son of Colonel Nigel Harington and Grace Annette Marie (Madocks) Balfour, Harold Harington Balfour was educated at Chilverton Elms School in Dover, Kent. Joining the King's Royal Rifle Company in 1914, Balfour served in France for 3 months before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. After training, he served with 60 Squadron in 1916, then returned to Martlesham as a test pilot. Posted to 43 Squadron in 1917, he downed 2 enemy aircraft with the Sopwith 1½ Strutter before he was injured in a crash. Later that year, he was posted to the School of Special Flying at Gosport, then served briefly with 40 Squadron before rejoining 43 Squadron as a Sopwith Camel pilot in 1918. After claiming 7 more victories and receiving a promotion to Major, he assumed command of the training school at Norfolk, remaining there until 1919. Balfour was granted a short service commission as Flying Officer with effect from 26 April 1920 and left the Royal Air Force in 1926. He entered politics and became a conservative Member of Parliament for the Isle of Thanet in 1929. In 1938, Balfour was appointed Under Secretary of State for Air, a position he held throughout World War II. He gained the title of 1st Baron Balfour of Inchrye in 1945 and before his death in 1988, he served as president of the British Society of World War I Aero Historians.
"We were too busy fighting to worry about the business of clever tactics." Harold Balfour1
Lt. (temp. Capt.) Harold Harington Balfour, K.R.R.C., Spec. Res. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on many occasions. He has carried out many valuable reconnaissances under very adverse conditions. He has shot down two hostile machines.
Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 May 1917 (30095/5179)
Military Cross (MC) Bar
Lieut. (T./Capt.) Harold Harington Balfour, M.C., K.R.R.C., Spec. Res., and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On three occasions during one month he has destroyed one hostile machine and driven down two others completely out of control. On one occasion, flying at a very low altitude, under extremely adverse weather conditions, he carried out a reconnaissance, in which he bombed two guns and silenced them, bombed large bodies of troops in a market square, and fired into the hangars and huts in a hostile aerodrome, several casualties being observed. He has at all times shown himself to be a leader of exceptional dash and ability, and offensive patrols led by him have constantly attacked enemy formations with marked gallantry and determination.
(M.C. gazetted 26th May, 1917.)
Supplement to the London Gazette, 22 April 1918 (30643/4821)