Clarence Percival Ball

Memorial: Downend - Christ Church

Regiment: Gloucestershire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 37492

Parents: Alfred Herbert and Kate Hetta Ball (nee Curtis)

Marital status: Single

Home address: Prospect Terrace, 4 Beaufort Place, Staple Hill, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Unknown

Date of birth: 1898

Place of birth: Colchester, Essex

Date of death: 19/10/1918

Buried/Commemorated at: Viz-en-Artois Memorial (Panel 6.), Pas de Calais, France

Age: 20

Further information:

Clarence Percival Ball was the third oldest of seven children born to parents Alfred and 'Clara' Ball. He enlisted the 1st/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment in the month from 20th November 1915. After the Battle of Cambrai, the allies advanced almost two miles and liberated the French towns of Naves and Thun-Saint-Martin. Although the capture of Cambrai was achieved significantly quicker than expected and with moderately low casualties, German resistance northeast of the town stiffened. By 11th October 1917, the Fourth Army had closed up on the retreating Germans near Le Cateau, with the Germans taking up a new position, immediately to the east of the Selle River. General Henry Rawlinson was faced with three problems: crossing the river, the railway embankment on the far side and the ridge above the embankment. The decision was made to commence the assault at night and as the river was not very wide at this point, planks would be used for the soldiers to cross in single file

After a six-day halt for preparations and artillery bombardments Fourth Army troops attacked at 5.20 a.m. on Thursday 17th October 1917. Infantry and tanks, preceded by a creeping barrage, moved forward on a 10 miles front south of Le Cateau. The centre and left of the Fourth Army forced crossings of the river, despite unexpectedly strong German resistance and much uncut barbed wire. Fighting was particularly fierce along the line of the Le Cateau–Wassigny railway. During this attack Private Clarence Ball is recorded as 'dying from wounds'. The right of the attack, across the upland watershed of the Selle, made most progress and by nightfall the German defences had been broken and Le Cateau captured. Fighting continued from 18th–19th October, by which time Fourth Army, much assisted by the French First Army on its right, advanced over 5 miles in harrying the Germans back towards the Sambre–Oise Canal. Percival Ball's body was not recovered so has no known grave but he is commemorated on Panel 6 of the Viz-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France and the memorial plaque in the Staple Hill Methodist Church. Also commemorated on the Christ Church Downend Memorial.

The Register of Soldiers Effects shows that Private Ball possessed £23.2s.4d from which £1.16s.8d was deducted for the loss of basic equipment – knives, forks, spoons or even an unpaid laundry bill – but was later reimbursed and sent to his father on 14th February 1919. The remainder, amounting to £21.5s.8d was sent to his father on 10th March 1919. A War Gratuity of £13.10s.0d also followed on 16th December 1919. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission show Percival's surname to be Balls whereas all other records show this to be Ball with his father completing the 1911 census using the latter surname

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Forces War Records, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Soldiers Died In The Great War, Find A Grave index, Free BMD, Register of Soldiers' Effects, Medal Rolls Index Card, UK Censuses, David Blackmore – Mangotsfield Residents Association