Monday, 14 May 2012

News - Volunteers needed to clean up Lenton War Memorial

Lenton's WW1 war memorial is located in a quiet back street in front of the Albert Ball memorial homes that were opened in 1923. Today the memorial grounds are in a poor state of repair. Overgrown shrub beds, weeds protruding through paving slabs, and a broken gate. A situation, which has really annoyed Nottingham Historian Mr Ray W Gale, who wanted to know why it was not being maintained.

He said today "Just look at the state of this land, its bad maintenance all around, and I think it is disrespectful to Nottingham's most famous fighter pilot Captain Albert Ball, and over 300 brave Lenton solders that lost their lives in the Great War.

"I think some local people in Lenton should volunteer a few hours of their time to help clean up the site and return it to good order. It would be a lovely tribute in memory of these brave soldiers", added.

Ray Gale who lives in East Leake is no stranger to Nottingham's war memorials having spent 15 months visiting every one, inside churches, and in the open where he has carefully counted the numbers of the city's fallen heroes. Then assisted by John Brydon, who helped raise £25,000, they got the money to restore St Mary's war memorial in the lace market to its former glory in 2008.

As we stood in front of the Lenton war memorial, I asked Ray about Captain Albert Ball:

"Albert Ball was born in Nottingham at 32 Lenton Boulevard on 16 August 1896. His childhood and youth were passed in a house called Sedgley at 43 Lenton Road," he said.

"In 1914 he enlisted in the British army with the 27th Battalion (Robin Hoods), of the Sherwood Foresters. By October of 1914, he had reached the rank of Sergeant and then in the same month was made a Second Lieutenant to his own battalion.

"On 16 May 1916 flying a Bristol Scout he opened his score, shooting down an Albatross C-type over Beaumont. On 29 May 1916, he shot down two LVG C-types, whilst flying his Nieuport plane, and he shot down many more enemy planes after that."

So what happened to Albert? I asked. Mr Gale walked around the war memorial studying the four plaques on view whilst in deep thought, before answering.

"Captain Albert Ball made his final flight on 7 May 1917 when he flew as part of an eleven-strong hunting patrol into action against Jagdstaffel 11. It was a very cloudy day. Albert was pursuing Lothar's Albatros Scout who crash-landed, wounded. Then Albert was seen by many observers to dive out of a cloud and crash. He died minutes later in the arms of a French girl, named Madame Cecille Deloffre. Captain Ball was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on 8 June 1917.

"This is the main WW1 war memorial dedicated to the memory of Captain Albert Ball and the soldiers of Lenton who died in the Great War. I just feel so angry about the way it is being neglected," he said.


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