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  • Bagthorpe Hospital, Nottingham, later Bagthorpe Military Hospital. Contemporary postcard courtesy of L Gadd
Person Details
28 Aug 1889
Leicester
Catherine, known as 'Kate', was the daughter of John King Ball and Catherine Ball nee Oldbury. Her father, John King Ball, was born in Leek, Staffordshire, (birth registered 1856 J/F/M), and her mother, Catherine, was born in Nottingham in March 1860. They were married in 1880 and according to the 1911 Census had 11 children of whom only nine survived infancy or childhood. Nine children were named on the census between 1891 and 1911: Florence b. 1881, John b. 1883 , Thomas b. 1884, Ernest probably b. 1885 and May b. 1887 who were born in Nottingham, and Catherine b. 28 August 1889, Herbert b. 1891 , Lily b. 1895 and Horace b. 1897 who were born in Leicester. In 1881 John, a paper box cutter, and Catherine were living at 9 Neptune Place, Nottingham. Ten years later in 1891 they were living at 52 Metcalf Street, Leicester, with their six children, Florence, John, Thomas, Ernest, May and Catherine. By 1901 the family was back in Nottingham and living near Barker Gate in the ecclesiastical parish of St Mary. John was employed as a cardboard box cutter. All nine of their surviving children were still living at home: Florence a cardboard box maker, John who was in work, Thomas an errand boy, Ernest a printer, Maya yarn winder, and Catherine, Herbert (10), Lily (6) and Horace (4). John and Catherine were living at 47 Blue Bell Hill, Nottingham, in 1911. Seven of their children were in the home on the night of the census: Florence who was still working as a cardboard box maker, John, a mixer for a chemical manufacturer, Catherine a pattern girl for a lace manufacturer, Herbert a lace machine builder, Lily a filling hand for a lace manufacturer, Horace an office boy and their married daughter May Parks. May had married Henry Parks in 1908; they had had one child who had died in infancy. John and Catherine's second son, Thomas, had married Edith Ellen Tomlinson in 1907. By the time of Catherine's death at the end of December 1917 the family home was at 25 Trent Bridge Footway, Nottingham. According to a report of Catherine's death in the local paper in January 1918, all five brothers had served in France 'of whom three are discharged, one without his right arm, another with a tubercular hip, and the third with chronic bronchitis. The eldest [John] and the youngest [Horace] are serving now.' The youngest brother, Horace died of wounds received in action on 12 June 1918. (See 'Extra information') John King Ball died on 7 February 1932 aged 76. In 1939 at the time of the England & Wales Register, his widow Catherine, described as an 'invalid', was still living at 25 Trent Bridge Footway. Also in the household were her two unmarried daughters; Florence, an unemployed box maker, and Lily a 'finished lace curtain measurer'. Catherine died in 1950 aged 89. Of Catherine's brothers, Thomas died in 1922, Ernest in 1935 and Herbert in 1945. John has not yet been traced after the record of January 1918. Of her sisters: May (Parks) died in 1956 and Lily in 1980. Florence has not yet been traced after 1939.
She attended St Mary's School and was a Sunday School teacher at St Mary's church; St Mary Annual Report 1913/1914, 'Children’s Evening Church Helpers and Infant’s School Sunday School teacher: Miss Kate (sic) Ball, 25 Trent Bridge Footway.' She trained at the General Hospital, Nottingham, to become a nursing sister. She worked at Bagthorpe Military Hospital, Arnot Hill, Mapperley Hall, and the Bowden Hospitals in Nottingham, and finally at Lakenham Military Hospital, Norwich.
31 Dec 1917
28
475855 - CWGC Website
25 Trent Bridge Footway, Nottingham
Nursing Sister
Voluntary Aid Detachment
104th Nottinghamshire VAD. Catherine joined the Red Cross Society early 1915 and volunteered for service, eventually being appointed to a V.A.D. hospital in Egypt. She travelled overland with other nurses to Italy where they embarked on the transport HMT Osmanieh, a former British registered passenger/cargo ship (Khedivial Mail Steamship company). The ship struck a mine laid by UC 34 at the entrance to the harbour outside Alexandria and Sister Ball and seven other nurses were drowned. Over 70 officers and men of the Commonwealth Forces as well as members of the ship's company were also lost. Catherine is buried in Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. CWGC - History of Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery (extract): 'In March 1915, the base of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was transferred to Alexandria from Mudros and the city became a camp and hospital centre for Commonwealth and French troops. Among the medical units established there were the 17th, 19th, 21st, 78th and 87th General Hospitals and No 5 Indian Hospital. After the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, Alexandria remained an important hospital centre during later operations in Egypt and Palestine and the port was much used by hospital ships and troop transports bringing reinforcements and carrying the sick and wounded out of the theatres of war. This cemetery was begun in April 1916 when it was realised that the cemetery at Chatby would not be large enough. Most of the burials were made from the Alexandria hospitals, but a number of graves of December 1917 were due to the loss of the troop transports "Aragon" and "Osmanieh" which were sunk by torpedo and mine as they entered the port.' (www.cwgc.org)
Catherine's brother, Horace, served with the 1/5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and died of wounds received in action on 12 June 1918. (See record on this Roll of Honour) Another casualty from HMT Osmanieh was 289324 Sapper George William Villiers 98th Light Railway Train Crew Coy. Royal Engineers. (See record on this Roll of Honour) Personal dedication on CWGC headstone: ‘Though many miles from home in memory ever dear.’ A photograph of Catherine has been added to the Imperial War Museum website: livesofthefirstworldwar.org/community/2120 Nottingham Evening Post, 9 January 1918 :- “DROWNED AT SEA. NOTTINGHAM NURSE'S SAD DEATH. “Official notification has been received by Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Ball, of 25, Trent Bridge-footway, Nottingham, that their daughter, V.A.D. Nurse Catherine Ball, was drowned at sea on December 31st [1917] off Alexandria. Miss Ball was on the same vessel as that from which another Nottingham nurse, Miss Winifred Maud Brown, was lost. “Prior to sailing for Egypt Miss Ball was Bagthorpe Military Hospital, Arnot Hill, Mapperley Hall, and the Bowden Hospitals in Nottingham, and finally at Fakenham Military Hospital, Norwich. “Mr. and Mrs. Ball have had five sons serving in France, of whom three are discharged, one without his right arm, another with a tubercular hip, and the third with chronic bronchitis. The eldest and the youngest are serving now.” Nottingham Evening Post, 23rd January 1918 “NOTTINGHAM V.A.D. HEROINES. MEMORIAL SERVICE AT ST. PETER'S. “In memory of two Nottingham V.A.D. workers. Miss Winifred Maud Brown, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Brown, Glenthorne, Lucknow-avenue, and Catharine Ball, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Ball, 25, Trent Bridge-footway, both of whom were drowned at sea off Alexandria, on December 31st while on the way to a military hospital in Egypt, a service was held this afternoon [23rd January 1918] in St. Peter's Church, Nottingham. “The officiating clergy were the Rev. A. W. Dewick, rector of St. Peter's, and the Rev. E. J. Bardsley, vicar of St. Andrew's. Among the hymns sung were “How bright those glorious spirits shine" and “Jesus Lives." There was a large congregation, including numerous contingents of V.A.D. workers, members of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, and special constables, together with many wounded men, and the service was of a most impressive character throughout.” Above courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918 Catherine's medals are now in a private collection.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Bagthorpe Hospital, Nottingham, later Bagthorpe Military Hospital. Contemporary postcard courtesy of L Gadd
    Catherine Ball - Bagthorpe Hospital, Nottingham, later Bagthorpe Military Hospital. Contemporary postcard courtesy of L Gadd
  • Buried in Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. (www.cwgc.org)
    Catherine Ball - Buried in Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. (www.cwgc.org)