Captain Albert Ball VC DSO MC
British Air Ace of World War One
In 1914 he enlisted in the British army with the 2/7th Battalion (Robin Hoods), of the Sherwood Foresters, Notts and Derby Regiment. By the October of 1914 he had reached the rank of Sergeant and then in the same month was made a Second-Lieutenant to his own battalion.
So desperate was Albert to get to the front that he transferred to the North Midland Divisional Cyclist Company but still remained in England throughout 1915.
1915, Albert, now Second Lieutenant, in the NMDCC
In June 1915 he paid for private tuition and trained as a pilot at Hendon with the Ruffy-Baumann School. On 15 October 1915 he obtained Royal Aero Club Certificate Number 1898 and requested transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. The transfer granted, he further trained at Norwich and Upavon, being awarded the pilot's brevet on 22 January 1916.
18 February 1916, he was posted to Number 13 Squadron at Marieux, France, flying BE2c's. Albert saw much action in these slow reconnaissance aircraft.
Albert really wanted to fly fighters. 7 May 1916, his wish was granted. Now in his chosen element, Albert began to display the hallmark of the finest fighting men: the urge to get at the enemy. He built a small wooden hut next to the aircraft hangar, in which he lived, ate and slept 'over the shop' so that he could be airbourne almost immediately and into combat.
16 May 1916 - flying Bristol Scout 5512 - he opened his score, shooting down an Albatros C-type over Beaumont at 08.45 hours. 29 May 1916, he shot down two LVG C-types, whilst flying his Nieuport 5173.
His desire to be at the enemy's throat was shown when he took off in Nieuport 5173 on 1 June 1916 and deliberately circled over the German airfield at Douai, challenging and inviting combat. Two German pilots took up the challenge but were driven down by Albert who claimed one - a Fokker E-type - as his fourth victory.
26 June Albert attacked and destroyed, with phosphor bombs, a kite observation balloon, next day he was gazetted to receive the Military Cross and cited for his continuous determination to be at the enemy. His next victories were over a Roland CII and an Aviatik C on 2 July 1916, both shot down within the space of half an hour.
Hendon: Schooling machines of the Ruffy-Baumann instructional facility