EAST AND WEST AFRICA 1887-1900, 1 CLASP, BENIN 1897 ‘W. H. S. BALL, MID., H.M.S. FORTE.’, 1914-15 STAR ‘LT. COMMR. W. H. S. BALL, R.N.’, BRITISH WAR AND VICTORY MEDALS ‘COMMR. W. H. S. BALL. R.N.’ mounted for wear.
William Henry Strickland Ball was born in Bristol in July 1879, and joined the Royal Navy as a cadet with H.M.S. Britannia in July 1893. He advanced to midshipman in 1895, and served with H.M.S Forte from August 1896. During his time with Forte, Ball served punitive expedition against the Kingdom of Benin in 189:
Ball advanced to lieutenant in April 1901, attained his 1st Class Torpedo Certificate in 1903, and qualified as lieutenant (technical) 1st class the following year.
Ball advanced to lieutenant commander in April 1909, and was appointed to H.M.S. Columbine additional (Technical) for duty in connection with Trawlers, Firth of Forth from 13 October 1914 - November 1918. His service record at first sight appears to be that of a naval officer steering a perfectly normal progression through his career in the Technical Branch, albeit with some focus on torpedoes. However, the following mentions of him in At Sea with Joseph Conrad, written by Captain J. G. Sutherland, R.N., indicate that what is shown on his naval record for 1914-18 was cover for his true activities at the naval base of Granton, Rosyth, Scotland. At the latter the Special Service (Decoy Duty) was begun as an offshoot of the Admiralty’s Q-ship policy……….
Two obituaries for Ball confirm his service with Q-ships, the following from the Bristol Evening Post, 11 November 1939:
“SON OF BRISTOLIAN, HE HELPED DEVELOP FAMOUS Q-BOATS The Evening Post regrets to announce the death of Commander W. H. S. Ball, R.N. of 4 Upper Belgrave Road, Clifton, Bristol. Commander Ball was associated with the planning and development of the Q-boats and during the 1914-18 war he was a motor-boat torpedo expert, later being stationed at Glasgow and Weymouth. After the he retired, he became an member of the Town Council…”
Another notes obituary:
“..In the last war, Commander Ball was appointed to fit out the first British ‘Q’ ships and he sailed in one of them..”
Condition generally GVF. Sold with copied research.
A most interesting group of medals and certainly worthy of more detailed research.