No. 208 Squadron RAF
No 208 Squadron was a reserve unit of the Royal Air Force, most recently based at RAF Valley, Wales. It operated the BAe Hawk aircraft, as a part of No.4 Flying Training School. Due to obsolescence of its Hawk T.1 aircraft compared to the new-build Hawk T.2 aircraft of its unit,4 Sqn. The squadron was established as part of the Royal Naval Air Service on 25 October 1916 at Dunkirk as No.8 Squadron, in its early days, the unit flew Sopwith Pups, 1½ Strutters and Nieuport Scouts. Later in World War I it re-equipped with Sopwith Camels and was assigned to artillery spotting, the squadron returned to the UK briefly before being sent back to France to face the German offensive. While in France a significant number of Camels belonging to the squadron were destroyed by the RAF to prevent the Germans capturing them during their advance, when the Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918, the unit was renumbered to No.208 Squadron RAF. After the war ended,208 Squadron remained with the forces until August 1919.
During the war, the squadron claimed 298 victories, twenty-five aces had served in the squadron. The squadron re-formed at RAF Ismailia in Egypt on 1 February 1920 by the renumbering of No.113 Squadron RAF and it was at first equipped with RE8s and from November 1920 till May 1930 with Bristol Fighters. In September 1922 the squadron was sent to Turkey for a year during the Chanak crisis, being stationed at San Stefano, after the conflict,208 Squadron went back to Egypt and in 1930 got Armstrong Whitworth Atlas aircraft to replace the old Bristol fighters. The Atlases in their turn were replaced five years by Audaxes, just before the outbreak of World War II, in January 1939, these gave way for the Westland Lysander. No.208 Squadron was still stationed in Egypt at the outbreak of World War II, during the war it included a significant number of Royal Australian Air Force and South African Air Force personnel, along with other nationalities. Amongst the members of the squadron at this time was Robert Leith-Macgregor, shot down on more than one occasion, once ending up taxiing through a minefield, the unit was stationed in Palestine, before returning to North Africa.
It briefly converted to Curtiss Tomahawks, but received Supermarine Spitfires in late 1943, from 1944, it took part in the Italian Campaign. Shortly after the war,208 Squadron moved back to Palestine where it was involved in operations against the Egyptian Air Force, in 1948, the squadron moved to the Egyptian Canal Zone. It saw action in the Israeli War of Independence, losing four Spitfires in combat with Israeli Air Force aircraft, the last officially recorded Air to Air fighter pilot kill occurred on 22 May 1948. At 09,30 two Egyptian Spitfire LF. 9s staged an attack on Ramat David. This time Fg Off Tim McElhaw and Fg Off Hully of 208 Squadron had taken over the standing patrol, Fg Off McElhaw, flying Spitfire FR.18 TZ228, intercepted and shot down both LF. 9s
The Albatros D. III was a biplane fighter aircraft used by the Imperial German Army Air Service during World War I. A modified licence model was built by Oeffag for the Austro-Hungarian Air Service and it was the preeminent fighter during the period of German aerial dominance known as Bloody April 1917. Development of the prototype D. III started in late July or early August 1916, the date of the maiden flight is unknown, but is believed to have occurred in late August or early September. Following the successful Albatros D. I and D. II series, however, at the request of the Idflieg, the D. III adopted a sesquiplane wing arrangement broadly similar to the French Nieuport 11. The upper wingspan was extended, while the wing was redesigned with reduced chord. V shaped interplane struts replaced the previous parallel struts, for this reason, British aircrews commonly referred to the D. III as the V-strutter. After a Typenprüfung on 26 September 1916, Albatros received an order for 400 D. III aircraft, Idflieg placed additional orders for 50 aircraft in February and March 1917.
The D. III entered squadron service in December 1916, and was acclaimed by German aircrews for its maneuverability. Two faults with the new aircraft were soon identified, like the D. II, early D. IIIs featured a Teves und Braun airfoil-shaped radiator in the center of the upper wing, where it tended to scald the pilot if punctured. From the 290th D. III onward, the radiator was offset to the right on production machines while others were moved to the right as a field modification. Aircraft deployed in Palestine used two wing radiators, to cope with the warmer climate, more seriously, the new aircraft immediately began experiencing failures of the lower wing ribs and leading edge, a defect shared with the Nieuport 17. On 23 January 1917, a Jasta 6 pilot suffered a failure of the right wing spar. On the following day, Manfred von Richthofen suffered a crack in the wing of his new D. III. On 27 January, the Kogenluft issued an order grounding all D. IIIs pending resolution of the wing failure problem, on 19 February, after Albatros introduced a reinforced lower wing, the Kogenluft rescinded the grounding order.
At the time, the wing failures were attributed to poor workmanship. In fact, the cause of the failures lay in the sesquiplane arrangement taken from the Nieuport. While the lower wing had sufficient strength in static tests, it was determined that the main spar was located too far aft. Pilots were therefore advised not to perform steep or prolonged dives in the D. III and this design flaw persisted despite attempts to rectify the problem in the D. III and succeeding D. V
The Iron Cross was a military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and in the German Empire and Nazi Germany. It was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia in March 1813 backdated to the birthday of his late wife Queen Louise on 10 March 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars, Louise was the first person to receive this decoration. The recommissioned Iron Cross was awarded during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, the Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. The design of the symbol was black with a white or silver outline. It was ultimately derived from the cross pattée occasionally used by the Teutonic Order from the 13th century, the black cross patty was used as the symbol of the German Army from 1871 to March/April 1918, when it was replaced by the Balkenkreuz. In 1956, it was re-introduced as the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the Black Cross is the emblem used by the Prussian Army, and by the army of Germany from 1871 to present.
It was designed on the occasion of the German Campaign of 1813, from this time, the Black Cross featured on the Prussian war flag alongside the Black Eagle. The design is due to neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, based on a sketch by Frederick William, the design is ultimately derivative of the black cross used by the Teutonic Order. This heraldic cross took various forms throughout the history, including a simple Latin cross. When the Quadriga of the Goddess of Peace was retrieved from Paris at Napoleons fall, an Iron Cross was inserted into her laurel wreath, making her into a Goddess of Victory. The Black Cross was used on the naval and war flags of the German Empire, the Black Cross was used as the symbol of the German Army until 1915, when it was replaced by a simpler Balkenkreuz. The Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany, the traditional design in black is used on armored vehicles and aircraft, while after German reunification, a new design in blue and silver was introduced for use in other contexts.
The ribbon for the 1813,1870 and 1914 Iron Cross was black with two white bands, the colors of Prussia. The non-combatant version of this award had the same medal, but the black, the ribbon color for the 1939 EKII was black/white/red/white/black. Since the Iron Cross was issued several different periods of German history. For example, an Iron Cross from World War I bears the year 1914, the reverse of the 1870,1914 and 1939 series of Iron Crosses have the year 1813 appearing on the lower arm, symbolizing the year the award was created. The 1813 decoration has the initials FW for King Frederick William III, the final version shows a swastika. There was the 1957 issue, a replacement medal for holders of the 1939 series which substituted an oak-leaf cluster for the banned swastika
A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to qualify as an ace has varied. The few aces among combat aviators have historically accounted for the majority of victories in military history. Aerial combat became a prominent feature with the Fokker Scourge, in the last half of 1915 and this was the beginning of a long-standing trend in warfare, showing statistically that approximately five percent of combat pilots account for the majority of air-to-air victories. Use of the ace to describe these pilots began in World War I. The British initially used the term star-turns, while the Germans described their elite fighter pilots as Überkanonen, in the Luftstreitkräfte the Pour le Mérite was nicknamed Der blaue Max/The Blue Max, after Max Immelmann, who was the first fighter pilot to receive this award. Initially, German aviators had to destroy eight Allied aircraft to receive this medal, as the war progressed, the qualifications for Pour le Mérite were raised, but successful German fighter pilots continued to be hailed as national heroes for the remainder of the war.
Victories were counted for aircraft forced down within German lines and these victories were usually included in a pilots totals and in citations for decorations. Nonetheless some pilots did become famous through press coverage, making the British system for the recognition of successful fighter pilots much more informal and somewhat inconsistent. One pilot, Arthur Gould Lee, described his own score in a letter to his wife as Eleven, five by me solo — the rest shared, adding that he was miles from being an ace. This shows that his No.46 Squadron RAF counted shared kills, evident is that Lee considered a higher figure than five kills to be necessary for ace status. Aviation historians credit him as an ace with two aircraft destroyed and five driven down out of control, for a total of seven victories. Other Allied countries, such as France and Italy, fell somewhere in between the very strict German approach and the relatively casual British one and they usually demanded independent witnessing of the destruction of an aircraft, making confirmation of victories scored in enemy territory very difficult.
The Belgian crediting system sometimes included out of control to be counted as a victory, American newsmen, in their correspondence to their papers, decided that five victories were the minimum needed to become an ace. While ace status was generally won only by pilots, bomber. The most notable example of an ace in World War I is Charles George Gass with 39 accredited aerial victories. There were two theaters of war that produced flying aces between the two world wars and they were the Spanish Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Spanish ace Joaquín García Morato scored 40 victories for the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, part of the outside intervention in the war was the supply of volunteer foreign pilots to both sides
The Sopwith Triplane was a British single seat fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War. It was the first military triplane to see operational service, the Triplane joined Royal Naval Air Service squadrons in early 1917 and was immediately successful. It was nevertheless built in small numbers and was withdrawn from active service as Sopwith Camels arrived in the latter half of 1917. Surviving Triplanes continued to serve as trainers until the end of the war. The Triplane began as a venture by the Sopwith Aviation Company. Ailerons were fitted to all three wings, by using the variable incidence tailplane, the aircraft could be trimmed to fly hands-off. The introduction of a smaller 8 ft span tailplane in February 1917 improved elevator response, the Triplane was initially powered by the 110 hp Clerget 9Z nine-cylinder rotary engine, but most production examples were fitted with the 130 hp Clerget 9B rotary. At least one Triplane was tested with a 110 hp Le Rhône rotary engine, the initial prototype of what was to be referred to simply as the Triplane first flew on 28 May 1916, with Sopwith test pilot Harry Hawker at the controls.
Within three minutes of takeoff, Hawker startled onlookers by looping the aircraft, serial N500, three times in succession, the Triplane was very agile, with effective, well-harmonised controls. When maneuvering, the Triplane presented an unusual appearance, one observer noted that the aircraft looked like a drunken flight of steps when rolling. In July 1916, N500 was sent to Dunkirk for evaluation with A Naval Squadron,1 Naval Wing, the second prototype, serial N504, was fitted with a 130 hp Clerget 9B. N504 first flew in August 1916 and was sent to France in December. This aircraft served as a trainer for several squadrons. Seeking modern aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps, the War Office issued a contract to Clayton & Shuttleworth for 106 Triplanes, in February 1917, the War Office agreed to exchange its Triplane orders for the Admiraltys SPAD S. VII contracts. For unknown reasons, the RFC Triplane contract issued to Clayton & Shuttleworth was simply cancelled rather than being transferred to the RNAS, total production amounted to 147 aircraft.
No.1 Naval Squadron became fully operational with the Triplane by December 1916, but the squadron did not see any significant action until February 1917, No.8 Naval Squadron received its Triplanes in February 1917. Nos.9 and 10 Naval Squadrons equipped with the type between April and May 1917, the only other major operator of the Triplane was a French naval squadron based at Dunkirk, which received 17 aircraft. The Triplanes combat debut was highly successful, the new fighters exceptional rate of climb and high service ceiling gave it a marked advantage over the Albatros D. III, though the Triplane was slower in a dive
The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power, the Prussian Army had its roots in the core mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Elector Frederick William developed it into a standing army, while King Frederick William I of Prussia dramatically increased its size. The army had become outdated by the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, conservatives halted some of the reforms and the Prussian Army subsequently became a bulwark of the conservative Prussian government. In the 19th century the Prussian Army fought successful wars against Denmark and France, allowing Prussia to unify Germany, the Prussian Army formed the core of the Imperial German Army, which was replaced by the Reichswehr after World War I. The army of Prussia grew out of the armed forces created during the reign of Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg. Hohenzollern Brandenburg-Prussia had primarily relied upon Landsknecht mercenaries during the Thirty Years War and Imperial forces occupied the country.
In the spring of 1644, Frederick William started building an army through conscription to better defend his state. By 1643–44, the army numbered only 5,500 troops. The electors confidant Johann von Norprath recruited forces in the Duchy of Cleves and organized an army of 3,000 Dutch, garrisons were slowly augmented in Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia. Frederick William sought assistance from France, the rival of Habsburg Austria. He based his reforms on those of Louvois, the War Minister of King Louis XIV of France, the growth of his army allowed Frederick William to achieve considerable territorial acquisitions in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, despite Brandenburgs relative lack of success during the war. The provincial estates desired a reduction in the size during peacetime. In the 1653 Brandenburg Recess between Frederick William and the estates of Brandenburg, the nobility provided the sovereign with 530,000 thalers in return for affirmation of their privileges, the Junkers thus cemented their political power at the expense of the peasantry.
Once the elector and his army were strong enough, Frederick William was able to suppress the estates of Cleves, Frederick William attempted to professionalize his soldiers during a time when mercenaries were the norm. Acts of violence by officers against civilians resulted in decommission for a year, Field Marshals of Brandenburg-Prussia included Derfflinger, John George II, Spaen and Sparr. The electors troops traditionally were organized into disconnected provincial forces, in 1655, Frederick William began the unification of the various detachments by placing them under the overall command of Sparr. Unification increased through the appointment of Generalkriegskommissar Platen as head of supplies and these measures decreased the authority of the largely mercenary colonels who had been so prominent during the Thirty Years War
Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen
Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen was a German field marshal of the Luftwaffe during the World War II. Born in 1895 into a family of the Prussian nobility, Richthofen grew up in prosperous surroundings, at the age of eighteen, after leaving school, he opted to join the German Army rather than choose an academic career, and joined the armys cavalry arm in 1913. On the outbreak of the First World War, Richthofen fought on the Western Front, in 1915 he was posted to the Eastern Front, where he stayed until 1917. The Richthofen family produced several notable personalities that would become famous during the First War and his cousins, the brothers Lothar and Manfred von Richthofen both became flying aces and they encouraged him to join the Luftstreitkräfte. He did so, and joined Manfreds Geschwader, Jagdgeschwader 1, known as the Red Baron, was the highest scoring ace of the war, with 80 victories. On his first mission with his cousin, on 21 April 1918, Wolfram continued flying and went on to claim eight aerial victories before the armistice in November 1918.
Lothar survived the war but was killed in a accident in 1922. After the war Richthofen resumed civilian life after being discharged from the army and he studied Engineering at University before rejoining the Reichswehr, the German armed forces of the Weimar Republic era. In 1933 Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in Germany, and he served as part of the Condor Legion which supported the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. During this time, he recognised the need for air support in military campaigns and championed the dive bomber. He believed in improving ground-air communications, which was put into effect in the Second World War, after his experiences in Spain, the combination of effective air-ground communications and powerful concentration of dive bombers would lead to personal success for Wolfram in the first half of the war. By 1941, a standard of air to ground communications became a uniform facility in the Luftwaffe. The effectiveness of his units proved decisive at certain points in the French Campaign and he was awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross on 23 May 1940, in view of his achievements.
He continued in service during the Battle of Britain and the Balkans Campaign in 1940 and 1941. Richthofen achieved his greatest success on the Eastern Front, in particular, he achieved notable success in the Crimean Campaigns during 1942. He remained in service until late 1944, when he was retired on medical grounds. Soon after the capitulation of Germany in May 1945, he was prisoner by the United States Army. Richthofen was born on 10 October 1895, at the Richthofen Barzdorf estate, near Striegau and his father, Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen, and mother, Therese Gotz von Olenhusen were of the Silesian nobility, and the family had been ennobled 350 years before Wolframs birth
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms, an individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, dragoon or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used animals, such as camels. Cavalry had the advantage of improved mobility, and a man fighting from horseback had the advantages of greater height, another element of horse mounted warfare is the psychological impact a mounted soldier can inflict on an opponent. In Europe cavalry became increasingly armoured, and eventually became known for the mounted knights, in the period between the World Wars, many cavalry units were converted into motorized infantry and mechanized infantry units, or reformed as tank troops. Most cavalry units that are horse-mounted in modern armies serve in purely ceremonial roles, modern usage of the term generally refers to specialist units equipped with tanks or aircraft.
The shock role, traditionally filled by heavy cavalry, is filled by units with the armored designation. Before the Iron Age, the role of cavalry on the battlefield was largely performed by light chariots, the chariot originated with the Sintashta-Petrovka culture in Central Asia and spread by nomadic or semi-nomadic Indo-Iranians. The power of mobility given by mounted units was recognized early on, Cavalry techniques were an innovation of equestrian nomads of the Central Asian and Iranian steppe and pastoralist tribes such as the Persian Parthians and Sarmatians. The photograph above left shows Assyrian cavalry from reliefs of 865–860 BC, at this time, the men had no spurs, saddle cloths, or stirrups. Fighting from the back of a horse was more difficult than mere riding. The cavalry acted in pairs, the reins of the archer were controlled by his neighbours hand. Even at this time, cavalry used swords, shields. The sculpture implies two types of cavalry, but this might be a simplification by the artist, Later images of Assyrian cavalry show saddle cloths as primitive saddles, allowing each archer to control his own horse.
As early as 490 BC a breed of horses was bred in the Nisaean plain in Media to carry men with increasing amounts of armour. However, chariots remained in use for purposes such as carrying the victorious general in a Roman triumph. The southern Britons met Julius Caesar with chariots in 55 and 54 BC, the last mention of chariot use in battle was by the Caledonians at the Mons Graupius, in 84 AD. During the classical Greek period cavalry were usually limited to citizens who could afford expensive war-horses
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5
The Royal Aircraft Factory S. E.5 was a British biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War. It was developed by the Royal Aircraft Factory by a team consisting of Henry Folland, John Kenworthy and it was one of the fastest aircraft of the war, while being both stable and relatively manoeuvrable. According to aviation author Robert Jackson, the S. E.5 was, the S. E. E. 5s until well into 1918. Thus, while the first examples had reached the Western Front before Camel, together with the Camel, the S. E. The S. E. 5s remained in RAF service for some following the Armistice that ended the conflict. Quantities of ex-RAF aircraft were transferred to overseas military operators. The S. E.5 was designed by Henry Folland, John Kenworthy and it was built around the new 150 hp Hispano-Suiza 8 a V8 engine that, while providing excellent performance, was initially underdeveloped and unreliable. The first of three prototypes flew on 22 November 1916, the first two prototypes were lost in crashes due to a weakness in their wing design.
Like the other significant Royal Aircraft Factory aircraft of the war the S. E.5 was inherently stable, making it an excellent gunnery platform, but it was quite manoeverable. It was one of the fastest aircraft of the war at 138 mph, equal at least in speed to the SPAD S. XIII and faster than any standard German type of the period. While the S. E.5 was not as agile, according to Dodge Bailey, Chief Test Pilot of the Shuttleworth Collection, it had somewhat similar handling characteristics to a de Havilland Tiger Moth, but with better excess power. Only 77 original S. E.5 aircraft had completed prior to production settling upon an improved model. In addition to an order of 38 of Austin-built S. E. E. 5s, reportedly around 1,000 aircraft. A number of aircraft were converted to a two-seat configuration in order to serve as trainer aircraft. The S. E. 5b was a variant of the S. E.5 with a nose and upper and lower wings of different span. The single example, a converted S. E. 5a and it had a spinner on the propeller and a retractable underslung radiator.
The S. E. 5b was not a true sesquiplane – as the wing had two spars. Its performance was better than the S. E. 5a – the increased drag from the large upper wing seems to have cancelled out any benefit from the better streamlined nose
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun, fought from 21 February to 18 December 1916, was the largest and longest battle of the First World War on the Western Front between the German and French armies. The battle took place on the north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France. The German 5th Army attacked the defences of the Fortified Region of Verdun, poor weather delayed the beginning of the German attack until 21 February, but the Germans enjoyed initial success, capturing Fort Douaumont in the first three days of the offensive. Afterwards the German advance slowed, despite many French casualties, by 6 March, 20 1⁄2 French divisions were in the RFV and a more extensive defence in depth had been constructed. Pétain ordered that On ne passe pas were to be made, by 29 March, French artillery on the west bank had begun a constant bombardment of German positions on the east bank, which caused many German infantry casualties. In March, the German offensive was extended to the bank of the Meuse. The Germans were able to advance at first but French reinforcements contained the short of their objectives.
In early May, the Germans changed tactics and made local attacks and counter-attacks, part of the fort was occupied, until a German counter-attack recaptured the fort and took numerous prisoners. The Germans changed tactics again, alternating their attacks on banks of the Meuse and in June captured Fort Vaux. The Germans continued the offensive beyond Vaux, towards the last geographical objectives of the plan, at Fleury-devant-Douaumont. The Germans drove a salient into the French defences, captured Fleury, a German attempt to capture Fort Souville in early July was repulsed by artillery and small-arms fire. In August and December, French counter-offensives recaptured much of the ground lost on the east bank and recovered Fort Douaumont, the Battle of Verdun lasted for 303 days and became the longest and one of the most costly battles in human history. After the German invasion of France had been halted at the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914, the war of movement ended at the Battle of the Yser and the First Battle of Ypres.
The Germans built field fortifications to hold the ground captured in 1914, in late 1914 and in 1915, offensives on the Western Front had failed to gain much ground and been extremely costly in casualties. Falkenhayn offered five corps from the reserve for an offensive at Verdun at the beginning of February 1916. After the war, the Kaiser and Colonel Tappen, the Operations Officer at Oberste Heeresleitung, in the Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive, the German and Austro-Hungarian Armies attacked Russian defences frontally, after pulverising them with large amounts of heavy artillery. In the north, a British relief offensive would wear down British reserves, to no decisive effect, hints about Falkenhayns thinking were picked up by Dutch military intelligence and passed on to the British in December. The Fortified Region of Verdun lay in a salient formed during the German invasion of 1914, in a directive of the General Staff of 5 August 1915, the RFV was to be stripped of 54 artillery batteries and 128,000 rounds of ammunition
Albert Ball, VC, DSO & Two Bars, MC was an English fighter pilot during the First World War. At the time of his death he was the United Kingdoms leading flying ace, with 44 victories, and remained its fourth-highest scorer behind Edward Mannock, James McCudden, and George McElroy. Born and raised in Nottingham, Ball joined the Sherwood Foresters at the outbreak of the First World War and was commissioned as a lieutenant in October 1914. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps the following year, joining No.13 Squadron RFC in France, he flew reconnaissance missions before being posted in May to No.11 Squadron, a fighter unit. From until his return to England on leave in October, he accrued many aerial victories and he was the first ace to become a British national hero. After a period on home establishment, Ball was posted to No.56 Squadron, the famous German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, remarked upon hearing of Balls death that he was by far the best English flying man. Albert Ball was born on 14 August 1896 at 301 Lenton Boulevard in Lenton, after a series of moves throughout the area, his family settled at Sedgley,43 Lenton Road.
His parents were Albert Ball, a businessman who rose from employment as a plumber to become Lord Mayor of Nottingham, and who was knighted. Young Albert had two siblings, a brother and a sister and his parents were considered loving and indulgent. In his youth, Ball had a small hut behind the house where he tinkered with engines. He was raised with a knowledge of firearms, and conducted target practice in Sedgleys gardens, possessed of keen vision, he soon became a crack shot. Ball studied at the Lenton Church School, Grantham Grammar School and Nottingham High School before transferring to Trent College in January 1911, as a student he displayed only average ability, but was able to develop his curiosity for things mechanical. His best subjects were carpentry, modelling and photography and he served in the Officers Training Corps. When Albert left school in December 1913, aged 17, his father helped him gain employment at Universal Engineering Works near the family home. Following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Ball enlisted in the British Army, soon promoted to sergeant, he gained his commission as a second lieutenant on 29 October.
He was assigned to training recruits, but this rear-echelon role irked him, in an attempt to see action, he transferred early the following year to the North Midlands Cyclist Company, Divisional Mounted Troops, but remained confined to a posting in England. On 24 February 1915, he wrote to his parents, I have just sent five boys to France and it is just my luck to be unable to go. In March 1915, Ball began an engagement to Dot Allbourne