Two memorabilia collectors are looking for the niece of a forgotten Second World War pilot who will finally get the recognition he deserves later this year.

Sgt James Ballard’s name is set to be added to the Capel-le-Ferne monument in Folkestone, Kent, after it was discovered he was involved in the Battle of Britain.

Sgt Ballard was reported missing in action in August 1941 after his Spitfire was attacked when he was flying over Gravelines in France.

The 23-year-old was never seen again and because his body has never been found, his name has only ever appeared on the Air Forces Memorial in Surrey.

But Second World War memorabilia collectors Jacqueline Watts and Laurence Featherstone found Sgt Ballard’s name in a Spitfire pilot’s logbook they bought from an auction house in Colchester.

After carrying out some research, they discovered he was part of 610 Squadron which was involved in the Battle of Britain in October 1940.

They quickly passed the information to the RAF and Battle of Britain Memorial Trust who have now both confirmed Sgt Ballard’s role in the campaign.

This means he is expected to be added to the Capel-le-Ferne monument which features the names of nearly 3,000 airmen – famously known as “the Few” – who fought the Luftwaffe between July and October 1940.

And his involvement in the campaign means his family are also entitled to a rare Battle of Britain clasp.

However, the exact whereabouts of his relatives are not known, which has led to Ms Watts and Mr Featherstone issuing an appeal to track them down.

Ms Watts said: “We contacted the auction house to see if we could find Sgt Ballard’s relatives.

“They said he had a niece living in the Braintree district but we don’t know any more than that.

“The auction house has been closed since March because of the pandemic so we’ve got a bit stuck.

“It was so exciting when we got confirmation and it’s great that Sgt Ballard will get the recognition he deserves after all this time.

“He was a brilliant pilot and even though he was a bit of a rookie when he flew in the Battle of Britain, he went on to do some amazing things and even got handed control of his squadron.

“It would be such a shame if his niece didn’t know about his past because he was a hero.”

Sgt Ballard is understood to have been involved in 46 patrols, 13 convoy patrols, six operational sweeps and ten bomber escorts during his time with 610 Squadron.

He also played a key role in bringing down a German bomber in April 1941 which had just dropped high explosives and delayed action bombs on the south coast.

Mr Featherstone added: “We feel that up until now, this brave and skilled pilot has not been celebrated.

“We wondered whether Sgt Ballard’s family could contact us, if of course they want to, as we are now researching his story following on from the Battle of Britain period.”