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Artefact of the Month

A WALKING STICK FROM THE WESTERN FRONT

When the First World War started, Albert Ball enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters Regiment. After training as a pilot, he was posted to the Royal Flying Corps’ No 13 Squadron in France in February 1916, but was transferred to No 11 Squadron on 7 May. He rapidly achieved success gaining his first victory in a Bristol scout (fighter aircraft) and then ten more flying Nieuport scouts. Late in August he was transferred to No 60 Squadron and by the end of September his claims had risen to 31.

By the time he returned to England for a rest in October 1916, he had been awarded a DSO and Bar and a Military Cross. He returned to France as a Flight Commander in No 56 Squadron, equipped with the new SE5 aircraft. By the 6 May 1917 his total had reached 44. The next day he failed to return and was posted missing in action. He was later found to have crashed to his death but the cause has never been adequately explained.

He was recommended for a second Bar to his DSO at the time of his death, aged 20, and was posthumously awarded the VC on 8 June 1917.

Displayed in the Museum is a walking stick made by his fitter W G Noyce from a wing strut of a crashed Nieuport flown by Captain Ball.

THE WALKING SICK MADE FROM A WING STRUT OF A CRASHED NIEUPORT SCOUT AIRCRAFT FLOWN BY CAPTAIN ALBERT BALL CAN BE SEEN WITH HIS FITTER’S WARTIME MEDALS IN THE MUSEUM’S TANGMERE HALL.

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