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Albert Ball in training note the absence of wings. The aircraft is an obsolete Caudron G.3 widely used as a trainer in 1915-16

ALBERT BALL

- THE LONER -

by Chris Collingwood

Albert Ball's Medal Collection Nottingham Castle Museum

Captain Albert Ball VC, DSO & Two Bars, MC, was an English fighter pilot of the First World War. At the time of his death he was only 20 years of age, but had aquired a stunning total of forty-four victories, the United Kingdoms leading flying Ace, and he remained the fourth-highest scorer behind Edward Mannock, James McCudden, and George McElroy.

Born in Nottingham on the 14 August 1896, Ball jioned the Sherwood Foresters on the outbreak of the First World War and and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in October 1914. He subsequently transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and was granted his pilots wings on 26 January 1916. In February 1916 he jioned No13 Squadron RFC in France, and flew reconnaissance missions, in May of the same year he was posted to No11 Squadron, which was a fighter unit.

From that period until he returned to England in October, he accrued many aerial victories and earned two Distinguished Service Orders and the Military Cross. He became during this time the first British Ace to achieve a major popular hero status with the public and news media. After a period on the home establishment, he was posted to No56 squadron and with his unit deployed to the Western Front in April 1917. Albert Ball was killed less than a month later on 7 May 1917, when he crashed to his death in a field in France. The loss of this hero set off a wave of national mourning and the posthumous decoration of the Victory Cross.

Chris Collingwood perhaps one this country's greatest portrait and battle artists evokes with this magnifcent painting the loneliness and perhaps tiredness that this young man must have been going through during the final weeks of his life. Day after day under desperate and demanding conditions these young men of the RFC faced an equally young and determined enemy, unable to escape from their wooden biplanes if wounded or on fire, their life expectancy was sometimes numbered in days.

160 Signed Limited Edition : £150

25 Remarque Edition : £265

15 Giclée Canvas Edition : £495

Memorial to Albert Ball in the grounds of Nottingham Castle

The Last Flight of Captain Albert Ball, VC, DSO and 2 Bars, MC, 7 May 1917 by Norman Arnold, 1919

The Grave of Captain Albert Ball Annoeullin Communal Cemetary France Grave No 643

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