Arthur BALL
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Unit: 57th Squadron ROYAL FLYING CORPS
Date of Death: 19 February 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Ismailia Memorial Cemetery, Egypt

Lieutenant Ball was the son of Mr & Mrs George Ball, Waverley House, Cheadle. The family had lived there for 12 years but originated from Didsbury, Manchester, where they had lived at 16 Claremont Grove. George Ball and Esther Barber had married in the late spring of 1896 at Holy Trinity Church, Rusholme. They had possibly met through their work as both were school teachers. Arthur is believed to have been their only child.

He was educated at Stockport Secondary School and Manchester Grammar School. After leaving school, he had worked as a clerk at the Manchester & County Bank for 19 months before enlisting as a private in the Manchester Regiment in September 1914. As with many young middle class men, he was selected to train as an officer, but soon trained to be an officer. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1915 and joined the 3rd Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment. By the following April, he had been attached to the Royal Flying Corps, remaining in England. In August, he became a qualified flight officer and was sent to Salonika the following month. In November, he was transferred to Alexandria in Egypt where he made many successful trial flights and was engaged in flight testing new machines. In December, 1916, Arthur was appointed as a flight instructor, first at Cairo, then at Ismailia.

On 19 February 1917, Arthur was testing a newly manufactured aircraft. It was a Bleriot Experimental 2c (number 1388). This was a two-seater fighter aircraft, equipped with twin machine guns. It was not popular with combat pilots as it was less manoeuvrable than newer planes. The Court of Inquiry held after the crash recorded that “the Court is of the opinion that the pilot died on the way to hospital as a result of the crash and the machine was wrecked. No blame can be attached to anyone. Weather conditions for flying were ideal. The machine was in a perfect condition. In attempting a turn, the pilot tried to negotiate too steep a bank, allowing the machine to get her nose down which resulted in a spin and a nose-dive from which he was unable to recover.” The record shows that the aircraft was only at 400 feet when it started to spin, so Arthur would have had little time to do anything.

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