Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917
Albert Ball was born on the 14th of August 1896 at a house on Lenton Boulevard, Lenton, Nottingham. After a series of moves throughout the area the family settled at Sedgley in Lenton Road. His parents were Albert Ball Snr, a successful businessman who rose from employment as a plumber to become Lord Mayor of Nottingham, and who was later knighted, and Harriet Mary Page, his Mother. The young Albert had two siblings, a brother and a sister. His parents were considered both loving and indulgent. In his youth Albert had a small shed in the back garden, where he tinkered with engines and electrical equipment. He was raised with a knowledge of firearms, and conducted target practice in Sedgley’s gardens. Possessed of keen vision he soon became an crack shot. He was also deeply religious, however this did not curb his enthusiasm for such boyhood pursuits as steeple jacking. On his 16th birthday he accompanied a workman to the top of a tall factory chimney and strolled about totally unconcerned by the height.
Ball studied at the Lenton Church School, The Kings School, Grantham and The Nottingham High School before transferring to Trent College in January 1911, at the age of 14, as a student he displayed only average ability, but was able to develop his curiosity for all things mechanical. His best subjects were carpentry, modelling, music and photography. He also served in the Officer’s Training Corps. When Albert left School in December 1913, aged 17, his Father helped him gain employment at the Universal Engineering Works near the family home.
Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, Ball enlisted in the British Army, joining the 2 / 7th ( Robin Hood ) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters ( Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment ). Soon promoted to Sergeant, he gained his commission as a second lieutenant on the 29th of October 1914. He was assigned to the training of recruits, but this rear echelon role frustrated him. In an attempt to see action, he transferred to the early the following year to the North Midlands Cyclist Company, Divisional Mounted Troops but remained confined to a posting in England. On the 24th of February 1917, he wrote to his parents, “I have just sent five boys to France, and I hear they will be in the firing line on Monday, it is just my luck to be unable to go.
To Be Continued…………………
(C) Damian Grange 2019