John Raeburn Balmer, OBE, DFC (3 July 1910 – 11 May 1944) was a senior officer and bomber pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Born in Bendigo, Victoria, he studied law before joining the RAAF as an air cadet in 1932. An instructor at Point Cook from 1935 to 1937, he achieved renown in Air Force circles when he reportedly parachuted from a training aircraft to motivate his pupil to land single-handedly. He also became known to the general public as a cross-country motorist, setting records for trans-Australia and round-Australia trips prior to World War II.
A flight lieutenant when war broke out, Balmer was promoted to squadron leader in June 1940, becoming the inaugural commanding officer of No. 13 Squadron, which operated Lockheed Hudsons out of Darwin, Northern Territory. He was raised to temporary wing commander in April 1941, and within a year had taken charge of the RAAF's first Bristol Beaufort unit, No. 100 Squadron. Appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in June 1942, he led the Beauforts on bombing and torpedo missions against Japanese targets in the New Guinea campaign.
Posted to England in June 1943, Balmer took command of No. 467 Squadron RAAF, flying Avro Lancasters in the air war over Europe. He led his unit through the Battle of Berlin from November 1943 to March 1944. In April he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the following month promoted to temporary group captain. Days later, on the night of 11/12 May, the last scheduled operation of his tour as No. 467 Squadron's commanding officer, Balmer failed to return from a mission over Belgium. Initially posted as missing, his plane was later confirmed to have been shot down, and all of the crew killed. Balmer was buried outside Brussels.
The Third Brother: The Royal Australian Air Force 1921–39
Australia in the War of 1939–1945: Series Three (Air) Volume I – Royal Australian Air Force 1939–1942
Australia in the War of 1939–1945: Series Three (Air) Volume III – Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939–1943
Australia in the War of 1939–1945: Series Three (Air) Volume IV – Air Power Over Europe 1944–1945