Ernest Ball DCM

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Ernest Ball DCM
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Personal Information
Date of Birth c1891
Place of Birth Canning, Western Australia
Death 16 May 1960 aged 69
Place of Death Gosnells, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 23 years, 8 months
Description 5'8¾' (1.m) tall ; 140lbs
63.503 kg
; dark complexion ; grey eyes ; dark hair ; scar on forehead
Occupation Sleeper cutter
Religion Church of England
Address NOK Gosnells Post Office
Next of Kin Brother , Mr Charles Ball
Military Information
Reg Number 1874
Date of Enlistment 13 Feb 1915
Rank Lance Corporal
Unit/Formation 11th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement, posted to A Company. 3rd Brigade / 1st Division
Date of Embarkation 19 Apr 1915 ‒ ? May 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A8 Argyllshire
Date of Return 21 Dec 1918 ‒ 24 Jan 1919
Ship Returned On HMHS Marama
Fate Wounded in action 13 Nov 1916 Flers
Wounded in action 24 Aug 1918 Proyart
Returned to Australia (medical)
Monument Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Gosnells Primary School Honour Roll
Gosnells Ward Honour Roll
Medals Distinguished Conduct Medal
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal



Pre War

One of seven children to Edith Chinery and William Ball, Ernest was born in 1891 in the Canning district, Western Australia[1]

Electoral Roll entry: 1916 Holyoake Mill, Dwellingup.

War Service

Records of his service prior to Egypt are missing.

Ernest joined the 11th Battalion on Gallipoli on 4 Jun 1915. On 23 Aug 1915 he reported to the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance with diarrhoea, and was seen by the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station before being evacuated to the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Mudros on Lemnos Island. Sent on to England aboard HMHS Aquitania, arriving there about 26 Sep 1915, he was admitted to the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth the same day. Released to Abbey Wood on 19 Nov 1915, and soon after went AWOL as on 13 Dec 1915 he was awarded 21 days Confined to Barracks. Transferred to the Australian Base Depot at Weymouth on 29 Feb 1916, and on 8 Apr 1916 he was allocated to the Officers Mess for duty.

On 18 Jul 1916 he was charged at the 3rd Training Battalion with having been absent from the 2:00pm Parade and was awarded 2 days punishment. On 25 Jul 1916 he proceeded to France and the next day was taken on strength by the 1st Division Base Depot in Étaples until he rejoined the 11th Battalion on 9 Aug 1916. At this time they were moving into billets at Bonneville where they remained until they moved back to the front lines near Albert at the end of August.

In November 1916 Ernest spent 3 days in medical care with laryngitis, and within a week of rejoining the battalion was wounded in action on 13 Nov 1916. The Battalion's War Diary recorded that near Flers during the evening of 12/13 November, a working party had gone out to bury British casualties from a previous attack on the enemy positions. During that time one soldier was wounded. It would appear that this was Ernest who received a bullet wound to his buttocks. Seen first by the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance who passed him to the 38th Casualty Clearing Station, and then the same day to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital at Le Tréport. On 27 Dec 1916 he had been released to the 3rd Convalescent Depot in Boulogne, and on the 29 Dec 1916 he returned to duty. On 17 Jan 1917 he again required hospital treatment for infection and was admitted to the 26th General Hospital in Étaples before being evacuated to England on 20 Jan 1917 aboard HMHS Carisbrook Castle in Le Havre.

The next day he was admitted to the 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford for observation. Released from hospital on 1 Mar 1917 to the 1st Command Depot at Perham Downs, on 27 Mar 1917 he was admitted to the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital in Bulford with VD, remaining there until 15 May 1917 (total ineffective time was 50 days).

On 29 May 1917 he faced a Court Martial charged with AWOL from 16 Feb 1917 until he was apprehended at the Strand in London about 8:15pm 24 Feb 1917. This was made worse by him having a non genuine leave pass. His punishment was 14 days detention, but as he had been in custody awaiting trail for 93 days (52 in Bulford Hospital), he forfeited a total of 116 days pay £29/-/-. On 5 Jul 1917 he proceeded overseas to France via Folkestone, and rejoined the battalion on 29 Jul 1917 in a rear area.

In early October, during the operation of Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium, Ernest performed deeds which resulted in him being awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. He carried messages, as Company Runner, from 1-9 October 1917, under intense enemy artillery fire. From 6-7 October, he was involved in a successful raid on enemy troops. Not only did he assist in maintaining communication but attacked a blockhouse, killing enemy soldiers and taking some prisoner. Lastly, when his Battalion was relieved, he voluntarily remained to assist the incoming runners in familiarising themselves with the routes. This was undertaken under continuous shell fire.[2]

10 Oct 1917 saw him again requiring medical attention, this time for trench foot. The 3rd Australian Field Ambulance sent him to a rest station. Requiring more attention, on 16 Oct 1917 Ernest was admitted to the 35th General Hospital. Evacuated to England on 18 Oct 1917 aboard HS Stad Antwerpen he was admitted to the Norwich War Hospital in Norfolk. On 9 Nov 1917 he was well enough to be released to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford.

Granted furlough from 10 - 24 Nov 1917 he reported to the depot at Hurdcott where on 2 Dec 1917 he sought treatment for a middle ear infection. True to form, on 28 Nov 1917 he was found guilty of having been AWOL from 3:30pm on 24 Nov 1917 to 6:00pm on 26 Nov 1917. Punishment was the loss of 6 day's pay. It is at this point that his award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal was announced, a year after he had left the battlefields of France.

Ernest spent the next 6 months moving between base depots and hospital until he was again AWOL, this time overstaying leave from midnight 18 Jun 1918 until apprehended by MPs at Westbury at 2:00am on 20 Jun 1918. On 17 Jul 1918 he was sent overseas again, rejoining his battalion on 23 Jul 1918 at Pradelles east of Hazebrouck where they were in the front lines.

Ernest was promoted Lance Corporal on 15 Aug 1918. On 24 Aug 1918 while withdrawing from heavy contact with the enemy in St Germaine Wood near the village of Proyart, Ernest was gassed. Seen first by the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance, he was passed to the 23rd Casualty Clearing Station who after assessing his condition, placed him on Ambulance Train No 34 for the coast. On arrival he was briefly attended to by the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital before being placed aboard HMHS Guildford Castle for the UK. Arriving in England, he was admitted to the Beaufort War Hospital in Bristol until he was released to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 9 Sep 1918. Ernest was released to furlough from 12 - 26 Sep 1918, after which he reported to Littlemoor Camp.

From 6 - 29 Nov 1918 he needed medical treatment for bronchitis at Sutton Veny before being one of the first to go home. Discharged by the 5th Military District on 31 Mar 1919.

Award Comment

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Company runner. During a minor operation he was of great assistance in maintaining touch with the flanks of the raiding party. He attacked a concrete blockhouse, killing many of the enemy and bringing back some prisoners. When the battalion was relieved he voluntarily stayed on and assisted the runners of the incoming battalion until they were acquainted with the routes.[3][4]

Post War

In the 1930’s, Ernest was involved in a fight at the Gosnells Hotel. Blamed on the alcohol, Constable Winton noted “The place was in an up-roar; several men were fighting, and both accused were chasing each other about, and striking blows indiscriminately.” Ernest and his co-accused were fined £2.[5]

Notes

  1. Gosnells History Centre
  2. Gosnells History centre
  3. Commonwealth Gazette No 110 dated 25 Jul 1918.
  4. London Gazette 4 Mar 1918 page 2753, position 3
  5. Gosnells History Centre

Brother of 812 Frank Ball, KIA at Gallipoli and Horace Munro Bell who returned to Australia.

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