Private 107642 John Henry Ball

Ball John Henry 96 442x600

Killed in Action on Sunday, 3rd November 1918, age 18 or 19.
Buried in Grave I. B. 10. at Poix-Du-Nord Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

10th Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.). 51st Brigade of 17th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Walsall, Resident: West Bromwich.

First landed France & Flanders, 9th April 1918.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the St. Paul's, Golds Hill Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/263398/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Henry Ball registered December quarter 1899 in Dudley.

1901 Census
20 Holland Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Joseph Ball (27, Tube Welder, born Tipton), his wife Margaret (29, born Tipton), and their 4 children: Joseph (4, born West Bromwich), Louisa (3, born West Bromwich), Harry (1, born West Bromwich), and William (4 months, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
93 Tantara Street, Walsall, Staffs.
Joseph Ball (36, Tube Welder, born Tipton), his wife Margaret (39, born Tipton), and their 9 surviving children of 10: Joseph (14, born Tipton), Louisa (13, born Tipton), Harry (11, born Tipton), William (9, born Tipton) Beatrice (8, born Tipton), Ada (7, born Tipton), Margaret (5, born Tipton), Leonard (2, born Walsall), and Reginald (9 months, born Walsall).

Personal Data

John Henry (Harry) Ball enlisted on 29th November 1917 in Walsall. He was 18 years 2 months old, 5 feet 5 inches tall with a 36½-inch chest, weighed 122pounds, and was employed as a Labourer. He had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes, light brown hair, and good physical development and was assessed as Category 'A'. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs Margaret Ball, of 205 Harvills Hawthorn, Hill Top, West Bromwich.

Initially 176561 in the 7th Training Reserve (Notts & Derbys), he transferred to the 51st Graduated Battalion Sherwood Foresters on the 21st March 1918 in Doncaster, then to the 15th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on the 1st April 1918. He landed in France on 9th April 1918, and finally on 11th April transferred to his fighting battalion - the 10th Sherwood Foresters.

On 15th August 1918 he was gassed (mustard gas) and treated at 55th Casualty Clearing Station, 2 days later he arrived at the 5th General Hospital at Rouen, and then the 74th General Hospital at Trouville on 25th August. His recovery was completed at the Infantry Base Depot at Calais, arriving on 29th August, before re-joining his unit on 12th October.

After Harry's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/15/0d (5 pounds and 15 shillings); this was paid to his father, Joseph S., in April 1919. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in April 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Harry had enlisted in approximately August 1917.

Action resulting in his death

By the start of November the German Army had withdrawn to a defensive line based upon the Sambre-Oise Canal. German resistance was crumbling, and a massed offensive was planned with the aim of sweeping the remnants of opposition from the field. This proved to be the final battle of the First World War for the British Army; the Armistice was just a week away.

On the day before this action, 2 men of the 10th Sherwood Foresters were killed in action. One of these 2 men Private Harry Ball, who was buried in Poix-du-Nord Communal Cemetery Extension, about 10 miles east of Cambrai.

The attack went ahead in the pre-dawn mists of Monday 4th November 1918, across a 30-mile front behind an intensive artillery barrage. The day would end with the German positions being forced back from the Sambre Canal in disorder and on the brink of defeat.

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