Former King’s boy Captain Ball is remembered 100 years after his death
A ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of a former King’s boy took place at the Grantham school on Sunday.
The Grantham Civic Society organised the event, not wanting to miss the opportunity to remember Captain Albert Ball VC, who was killed over France on May 7, 1917 at the age of 20 and was awarded the Victoria Cross.
He went to King’s School between 1906 and 1907. His parents had sent him to the school and he boarded at 9 Avenue Road.
The 100th anniversary was commemorated with a simple ceremony beneath the Civic Society blue plaque that bears his name on the Brook Street wall of the school.
Mayor of Grantham Councillor Linda Wootten and Andrew Macrae laid wreaths, while St Wulfram’s Church rector Father Stuart Cradduck gave a blessing.
The RAF standard was lowered by standard bearer Alfie Kent from the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).
Civic Society chairman Courtney Finn explained the events of the day in which Capt Ball died, when he took off for his final flight.
Courtney said: “There is still a mystery surrounding his death despite Baron Von Richthofen (The Red Baron) claiming that his squadron shot down Captain Ball’s plane. He was buried near where his plane fell and was given full military honours by the Germans.
“There was a month of indecision, some thought he had been wounded and taken prisoner. Eventually a small black cylinder containing a message was dropped over our lines. The message said ‘killed in an air fight with an honourable opponent’.”
Capt Ball had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and two bars, the Military Cross and other honours. His parents received his Victoria Cross from King George at Buckingham Palace on July 22, 1917.
He had shot down 44 enemy aircraft, though in one of his final letters to his parents he wrote: “Oh, it was a good fight, and the Huns were fine sports. One tried to ram me after I was hit and only missed by inches. I am indeed looked after by God; but oh! I do get tired of always living to kill, and I am really beginning to feel like a murderer. I shall be so pleased when I have finished.”
The then Prime Minister Lloyd George said: “In all his fighting record there is no trace of resentment, revenge or cruelty,” adding a quote from another of Capt Ball’s letters in which he said: “I hate this game, but it is the only thing one must do just now.”
The blue plaque to Capt Ball on the King’s School wall was unveiled in May 2011 by his niece, Paddy Armstrong.