Albert Ball, VC, MC, DSO and Bar
Capt Albert Ball, a young man from Nottingham with 44 kills to his name was shot down and killed May 7th 1917. He was posthumously awarded the VC to add to his two DSOs and Military Cross. The citation in the London Gazette read:
"For most conspicuous and consistent bravery from the 25th of April to the 6th of May 1917, during which period Capt Ball took part in twenty six combats in the air and destroyed eleven hostile aeroplanes, drove down two out of control and forced several others to land.
In these combats Capt Ball, flying alone, on one occasion fought six hostile machines, twice he fought five and once four. When leading two other British aeroplanes he attacked an enemy formation of eight. On each of these occasions he brought down at least one enemy.
Several times his aeroplane was badly damaged, once so seriously that but for the most delicate handling his machine would have collapsed as nearly all the control wires had been shot away. On returning with a damaged machine he had always to restrained from immediately going out on another. In all Capt BAll has destroyed forty three German aeroplanes and one balloon and has always displayed most exceptional courage, determination and skill."
Ball was born in Nottingham in 1896 and on the outbreak of war in 1914 joined the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regt) and was soon promoted to Sergeant. A commission to Lieutenant soon followed and then a transfer into the fledgling Royal Flying Corps. He notched up many kills from his SE5 biplane, many with his Lewis gun modified to shoot through the planes floor rather than through the propeller.
On the evening of May 7th 1917 Ball led a flight of eleven aircraft from 56 Sqn over Douai. They became entangled in a dogfight with German fighters from Jasta 11, Ball was last seen chasing the red Albatross of Lothar von Richtofen, younger brother of the Red Baron. Richtofen was credited with shooting down Ball who on crashing was pulled from the wreckage of his plane by a young French girl. He was described as having a broken back, crushed chest and fractured limbs.
He was buried in Annoeullin with full military honours by the Germans.