"The Times", 28 July 1999

A French school is to be named in honour of a British First World War pilot after pupils ignored home-grown heroes to choose him as their role model.

Children in the small town of Annoeullin dismissed candidates from France and mainland Europe in favour of Nottingham-born Captain Albert Ball. They voted overwhelmingly for the young airman, a posthumous winner of the Victoria Cross and Legion d'Honneur after reading about his daring exploits in an article produced by the local council.

His war cemetery grave is still tended by relatives of Cecille Deloffre, who found him after his final flight. The field where he crashed was bought by his father, Sir Albert Ball, a former Lord Mayor of Nottingham. Now the Albert Ball School is expected to open on Armistice Day in front of a specially invited audience of family and dignitaries from his home city.

Captain Albert Ball was born in Nottingham in 1896 and died barely two decades later after a terrifying dice with Baron Manfred von Richthofen's "Flying Circus". He took off on his last mission on 6 May 1917. He and his fellow pilots were intercepted above the trenches of Cambrai and Douai by Richthofen's planes and following a fierce dogfight that saw several aircraft from both sides shot down, Albert Ball was last seen chasing a German plane into a bank of cloud. Moments later he crashed into a cornfield near Annoeullin after a spectacular death dive that experts have never fully explained. He died the next day and was buried by the Germans with full military honours.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 8 June 1917 ]. Missions over France, 25 April to 6 May 1917, T / Captain Albert Ball, 7th Bn, Sherwood Foresters & Royal Flying Corps.

For most conspicuous and consistent bravery from the 25th of April to the 6th of May 1917, during which period Captain Ball took part in 26 combats in the course of which he destroyed eleven hostile aircraft, brought down two out of control and forced several others to land.

In these combats Captain 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 be restrained from immediately going out on another.

In all, Captain Ball has destroyed forty-three German aeroplanes and one balloon, and has always displayed most exceptional courage, determination and skill."

[ London Gazette, 27 July 1916 ]. For the award of the Military Cross, T / Captain Albert Ball, 7th Bn, Sherwood Foresters & Royal Flying Corps.

"For conspicuous skill and gallantry on many occasions, notably when, after failing to destroy an enemy kite balloon with bombs, he returned for a fresh supply, went back and brought it down in flames. He has done great execution among enemy aeroplances. On one occasion he attacked six in one flight, forced down two and drove the others off. This occurred several miles over the enemy's lines."

[ London Gazette, 22 September 1916 ]. For the award to become a Companion to the Distinguished Service Order, T / Captain Albert Ball, 7th Bn, Sherwood Foresters & Royal Flying Corps.

"For conspicuous gallantry and skill. Observing seven enemy machines in formation, he immediately attacked one of them and shot it down at fifteen yards range. The remaining machines retired. Immediately afterwards, seeing five more machines, he attacked one at about ten yards range, and shot it down, flames coming out of the fuselage. He then attacked another of the machines which had been firing at him and shot it down into a village, where it landed on top of a house. He then went to the nearest aerodrome for more ammunition, and returning, attacked three more machines, causing them to dive and get out of control. Being then short of petrol, he came home. His own machine was badly shot about in these flights."

[ London Gazette, 22 September 1916 ]. For the award of a First Bar to the Distinguished Service Order, T / Captain Albert Ball, 7th Bn, Sherwood Foresters & Royal Flying Corps.

"When on escort duty in a bombing raid, he saw four enemy machines in formation; he dived on to them and broke up their formation, and then shot down the nearest one, which fell on it nose. He came down to 500 feet to make certain it was wrecked. On another occasion, observing twelve enemy machines in formation, he dived in among them and fired a drum into the nearest machine, which went down out of control. Several more hostile machines then approached, and he fired three more drums at them, driving down another out of control. He then returned, crossing the lines at a low altitude, with his machine very much damaged."

[ London Gazette, 25 November 1916 ]. For the award of a Second Bar to the Distinguished Service Order, T / Captain Albert Ball, 7th Bn, Sherwood Foresters & Royal Flying Corps.

"He attacked three hostile machines and brought one down, displaying great courage. He brought down eight hostile machines in a short period and forced many others to land.".

Medal entitlement of Captain Albert Ball - The Sherwood Foresters & Royal Flying Corps

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ) & 2 Bars
  • Military Cross ( MC )
  • 1914 - 15 Star
  • British War Medal - ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal - ( 1914-19 ) + "MID Oakleaf"
  • Knight, Legion of Honour ( France )
  • Order of St George ( 4th Class ) ( Russia )


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Iain Stewart, 29 July 1999