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  • Bagthorpe Hospital, Nottingham, later Bagthorpe Military Hospital. Contemporary postcard courtesy of L Gadd
Person Details
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 Leek), and her mother, Catherine, was born in Nottingham on 16 March 1860. They were married in 1880 (A/M/J Radford) 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. 10 April 1881 (Nottingham), John b. 1883 (A/M/J Nottingham), Thomas b. 1884 (A/M/J Nottingham), Ernest probably b. 1885 (O/N/D Nottingham), May b. 1887 (A/M/J Nottingham), Catherine b. 28 August 1889 (O/N/D Leicester), Herbert b. 1891 (O/N/D Leicester), Lily b. 14 September 1895 (Leicester) and Horace b. 1897 (A/M/J Leicester). In 1881 John (25), a paper box cutter, and Catherine (21) 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, who was born in Leicester. By 1901 the family was back in Nottingham and living near Barker Gate in the ecclesiastical parish of St Mary. John (46) was now working as a cardboard box cutter. All nine of their surviving children were still living at home: Florence (20) a cardboard box maker, John (18) who was in work, Thomas (17) an errand boy, Ernest (15) a printer, May (14) a yarn winder, and Kate (12), Herbert (10), Lily (6) and Horace (4); the four youngest children had been born in Leicester. 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 (29) who was still working as a cardboard box maker, John (27), a mixer for a chemical manufacturer, Catherine (21) a pattern girl for a lace manufacturer, Herbert (19) a lace machine builder, Lily (15) a filling hand for a lace manufacturer, Horace (14) an office boy and their married daughter May Parks (24). May had married Henry Parks in 1908 (A/M/J Nottingham); they had had one child who had died in infancy. John and Catherine's second son, Thomas, had married Edith Ellen Tomlinson in 1907 (O/N/D Nottingham) and can be presumed to be living elsewhere. 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 of her 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 served in the 1/5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers and died of wounds received in action on 12 June 1918 (Sezanne Communal Cemetery, Marne, France). 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 (Mar Nottingham) aged 89. Of Catherine's brothers: Thomas died in 1922 (Dec Nottingham), Ernest in 1935 (Sept Nottingham) aged 49 and Herbert in 1945 (Dec Nottingham) aged 54. John has not yet been traced after the record of January 1918. Of her sisters: May (Parks) died in 1956 (Sep Basford) aged 69 and Lily in 1980 (Mar Rushcliffe) aged 84. 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.
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 Article published 9th January 1918 in the Nottingham Evening Post :- “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.” Article published in the Nottingham Evening Post dated 23rd January 1918 reads :- “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 articles are courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918 Catherine's medals are now in a private collection.
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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