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Private Percy Ball

200959 1st/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment

Son of Mr Fred & Mrs Clara Ball

Aged 18 years

Died 20th July 1917

Commemorated at Gaza War Cemetery
Grave XXX. A.6.

Born and resided at Rushden, enlisted Bedford.
The Rushden Echo Friday 14 September 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier's Sad Fate - Private Percy Ball Killed
Enlisted Twice at the Age of Sixteen - Striking Tributes

Mr and Mrs Ball, of 9 Trafford-road, Rushden, have received official news that their son Pte Percy Ball, 200959, Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action on July 20th. Deceased formerly worked at the C.W.S. boot factory at Rushden. He enlisted in the Northants Regiment in August, 1915, when only 16 years and 3 months old, but being under military age, was fetched back by the firm. A little later, however, he re-enlisted, this time in the Bedfordshire Regiment, in which he served up to the time of his death. He was of soldierly bearing, and stood nearly six feet high. As a lad he attended Newton-road day school, and he passed through St Mary's Church Sunday school. He had high ideals about his duty, and he felt he could do no other than take his share in the present war. It was at Gaza, in Palestine, that he was killed and at the time he was acting as orderly to Captain Armstrong. Mrs Ball received the following letter from Capt. Armstrong:-

"Dear Mrs Ball, I am writing to say how much I sympathise with you in your sad loss. The poor lad was killed instantaneously by a shell. I cannot speak too highly of him. He was one of my favourite boys, always ready and willing, a most efficient soldier. He is buried south of Gaza, a cross has already been erected on his grave. Once again let me express my sincerest sympathies."

Coy.-Quartermaster-Sergt. Maurice J Wood has sent Mrs Ball the following letter:-

"It is with the deepest sympathy and regret that I write to you to inform you of your son's death. He was killed in a raid on the enemy's lines on the night of July 20-21, death being instantaneous. He was a brave lad, and I may inform you that besides being a great favourite of all the company, the Coy. Commander had a very high opinion of him. He was the captain's orderly, and as such he worked indefatigably. Always, of a cheery disposition and willing nature, he was ever ready to perform his duties, which he carried out with great care and tact. Besides being orderly for the captain, he was my company storeman, and during the time he has been working under me I have realised his worth to the full, and I fully appreciated his abilities. I had become deeply attached to the boy, and his death was a great blow to me, and also to his comrades. I know how deeply you will be grieved to hear this awful news, and the only consolation one has is the fact that he has given up his life in fighting for that noble and righteous cause of freedom. I am sure he was quite ready to sacrifice it all, which he has been called upon to do, in order to secure the liberty of friends that he loved.

'Greater love hath no man than this, that he laid down his live for his friends.' Percy was a heroic boy, and I am proud to have been able to say that he was a friend of mine. I pray that you will accept my sympathy, and also convey same to his sister, of whom he talked and thought so much. May God give you grace and strength under these awful circumstances. His personal sentimental kit will be forwarded to you through the proper channels."

Pte J Boyes writes as follows: "Just a few lines to let you know the sad news of your son Percy. He was killed by a shell on July 20th, coming down the trench. The last words he sad to me were: 'Write home and tell mother if anything happens to me.' He was like a brother to me. I have lost my best friend. There wasn't another fellow in the company like Percy. He must have lost his head when we started; he seemed all right when we went over the top. His grave is being looked after; it is at the back of the firing line. I share the sympathy the same as you; my best one has gone, and yours, and your family."

The Rushden Echo Friday 21 September 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier's Fate The Late Percy Ball Captain's Tribute

Mrs and Mrs Percy Ball, of 9 Trafford road, Rushden, whose son, Pte Percy Ball, Bedfordshire Regiment, was (as reported in last weeks' "Rushden Echo") killed in action on July 20th, have now received further news in the following letter which Capt Armstrong sent to the Rector of Rushden (Rev P E Robson):

"Aug. 25, 1917, - Dear Mr Robson, - Your letter with reference Pte P Ball has been handed to me by the Commanding Officer. I wrote to Mrs Ball some weeks ago, and perhaps she has now received the letter. Poor Pte Ball was killed on the night of July 20-21, during the night attack. He acted as my orderly. The whole party had raided the Turkish trenches, completed their business, and were on their was back our own lines when poor Ball was killed instantaneously by a shell. He died without suffering any pain. I can only say how I sympathise with Mrs Ball, and how sorry we were to lose him. He was a real good, cheerful soldier and very popular indeed with the officers, NCOs and men. He was getting on well and acted as company storeman just before his death. The only thing that kept back his promotion was his youth, as I looked upon him as one of the best soldiers in the company. He is buried just south of Gaza, I will try and get a photo of his grave should we go near that part of the line again."
Mr and Mrs Ball wish to thank the many friends for their kinds expressions of sympathy with them hi their sad bereavement.

Rushden Echo, 19th July 1918

In Memoriam

BALL - In loving memory of the late Pte Percy Ball, of the Beds. Regt., who gave his life in the service of his country on July 20th, 1917, in Egypt. From his loving mother, father, sisters and brother.

A loving son, a brother kind,
A beautiful memory left behind;
He proudly answered his country's call,
His life he gave for one and all.

We never knew what pain he had,
We never saw his die;
We only knew he passed away,
And never said goodbye.

The Rushden Echo Friday 11 July 1919, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

BALL - In ever loving memory of Pte Percy Ball, 9, Trafford road, Rushden.

Far, far away, in a lonely grave,
Sleeps the one I love but could not save;
'Twas hard to say "Thy will be done,"
When one so dear was taken home.
But some day, in the better land,
From sin and sorrow free,
Where all in peace and joy and love
United we shall be.

Gone is the face we loved so dear,
Silent the voice we long to hear,
A painful shock, a blow severe
To part with one we loved so dear.
Friends may think the wound is healed,
But they little know the sorrow
Deep within our hearts concealed.

From his loving mother, father, sisters and brother.

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