Captain Albert Ball VC DSO MC
British Air Ace of World War One
"I see they have given him the V.C. Of course he won it a dozen times over—the whole squadron knows that." An unidentified Royal Flying Corps pilot who flew with Captain Albert Ball in his last engagement.
Although eighteen other First World War pilots were awarded VC's, none had captured the public imagination as much as Albert Ball. At a time when morale was low, when the war and its casualties seemed never ending, Albert became a symbol of hope. His individuality and his insistance on fighting alone set him apart from other fighter pilots. His invincible courage and his utter determination made him a legend not only in Britain but also amongst his enemies, to whom the sight of his lone Nieuport Scout brought fear.
March 1917, Albert seated in the SE5,A4850.
Born 14th August 1896 in Lenton, Nottingham Albert Ball was to become one of the most celebrated pilots of his generation. He joined the Sherwood Foresters at the outbreak of the First World War and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in October 1914. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in the following year. In February 1916 Albert joined 13 Squadron in France flying the BE.2c on reconnaissance missions. He joined 11 Squadron flying the Bristol Scout and perfected a technique of aiming his top wing mounted Lewis Gun on its Foster mounting and shooting at the enemy from below. In 1917 he was in 56 squadron flying SE5a No. 8898. On the evening of 7 May 1917 during an engagement with Lothar Von Richthofen near Douai he lost control of his SE5 in a storm cloud and crashed. He died of his injuries. During his service he was awarded the VC, DSO and 2 bars, MC, Legion d'honneur (France) and the Order of St George (Russia) and was credited with 44 victories.