Herbert’s father Richard Bale was born in 1848 in Berrynarbor, he was described as having a genial personality which won for him many friendships. He was a lifelong member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and a devoted liberal. Richard married Jane Down in 1888. Richard came from a long line of farmers, his father, John Bale had previously farmed Easewell farm in Mortehoe until his death in 1895, when Richard’s brother, William continued to farm there.
Richard and Jane’s first son, named after his father, born in 1889, followed by Alfred in 1891, Herbert in 1892 and a daughter, Elizabeth in 1899. Their youngest child Thomas was born in 1904. Prior to the outbreak of war, the 1911 census showed the family living at Damage Barton farm, the three eldest sons, Richard, Alfred and Herbert are working on the farm, with their two younger siblings at school. The farm at this time is shown to have ten rooms. As with all families, when war broke out, the men were called to war. Alfred Bale enlisted with the Navy at Exeter on the 19th June 1918, his enlistment documents describe him as being of ‘first class character, 5ft 10inches, fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.’ Herbert Bale (Private 30276) enlisted with the Royal North Devon Hussars on the 26th April 1916, he served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from the following November, transferring to the Lewis Gun section in 1917.
Herbert’s death was reported in the local press: “Herbert took part in the operations at Vimy Ridge and was killed in action at Polderhock Chitrau, north of Ypres on the 4th October 1917. He was killed by a shell whilst carrying the Lewis gun under his arm.” The family, who had been tenants of Damage Barton since 1890 bought the farm when it was sold by a gentleman from Bedfordshire. When he sold the farm, Alfred Bale, Herbert’s older brother, bought the farm so that his father and family would not be forced to leave Damage Barton following his 40 years of dedicated service to the farm. The farm was relinquished in 1920, when Richard Bale took a well earned retirement, Richard would die 10 years later in October 1930. Damage Barton, itself is now a private home and campsite, it is a Grade II listed farmhouse with walled courtyard, believed to have been built 500 years ago. The building dating back to the 16th Century has since been altered and added to, the majority having been built from local rubble slate and render. The out buildings include a mill house which was fully in use until the 1950’s.