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Albert Ball VC – Masonic generosity supports commemoration of local hero

 

It gives me the greatest of pleasure to thank Province on behalf of myself and the Albert Ball Cadets for the generous donation of £500 towards the expenses of attending the 100 year commemoration service of Captain Albert Ball V.C. at Annoeullin in France. The total raised was over £2,000 with donations from individuals and several Masonic Lodges, some of which Albert’s Father was member. The cheque from province was presented to the Cadets at the Territorial Army H.Q. at Carlton on Thursday 4th May just two days before they departed to France.

The week before departure brought several problems. The first that they were now without a Bugler for the service at the cemetery on Sunday. Our funding solved this problem.

Next we found out that the Cadets would have to pay for their lunch at the Albert Ball College on Sunday and that the Chaplin from Lille required a fee for her services. Again our funding came to the rescue.
Other unexpected incidents were that the day before departing, Flt. Lt. Fred Harrison the C.O. of the Cadets, rang me to state that he had received orders that no military uniform could be worn in Belgium or Denmark for two weeks due to security problems!

It was confirmed however that they could wear uniform in France for the official events on Sunday.

I had to relay this information onto David Sneath, our High Sheriff, who was already in France as he was planning to wear his Mercian Regiment uniform at the Menin Gate.

The Cadets travelled to France and on to Belgium by coach to meet up with all of us at the Menin Gate in the early evening. Whilst they could not be in uniform they were allowed to lay a wreath with the High Sherriff and Tom Huggon, Deputy Lieutenant, on behalf of the British Legion and Mercian Regiment.

The next morning we all met at the Albert Ball College at Annoeullin in France. The college had put on an excellent exhibition of Albert Ball’s early life, his military career, background and family life.
A spectacular parade of 20 vintage Morgan cars took place followed by the release of 100 pigeons to mark the 100th anniversary of Albert’s death.

Lunch was then held followed by the Cadets marching to the Cemetery where a memorial service was held around Albert Ball’s grave, he was the only British serviceman in this cemetery as his Father did not want his body moving to a British war grave as the Germans had given him a full military funeral.

After the ceremony the Cadets returned to Dunkirk were they were staying to enjoy an evening exploring the town and then coming home on Monday by ferry across the channel.
Being part of this memorial occasion made me feel extremely proud to be a mason. The generous support of province and other lodges contributed to the Albert Ball Cadets experiencing this once in a lifetime occasion. My sincere thanks goes to all the Masonic Brethren for making this possible.

See copy letters attached from the High Sheriff and the Chairman of the Albert Ball Cadets.

M.D. Neville.
Forest and Old Worksopian Lodges