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Air Marshal Sir Alfred Ball (33532)

'Freddie' Ball whilst serving with No 1 PRUAlfred Henry Wynne                 b: 18 Jan 1921             r: 7 Apr 1979            d: 25 Jan 2012

KCB – 1 Jan 1976 (CB – 1 Jan 1967), DSO – 19 Mar 1943, DFC – 6 Oct 1942, MiD – 11 Jun 1942, MiD - 14 Jun 1945,  AM (US) – 1 Jun 1943, Hon FBCS – 1984 (Hon MBCS –  1974)

Plt Off (P): 23 Dec 1939, Fg Off (WS): 23 Dec 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 23 Dec 1941, Act Sqn Ldr: 9 Dec 1942 [14 Sep 1942], Act Wg Cdr: xx Sep 1944, Flt Lt: 21 May 1946 [23 Jun 1943], Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1947, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1952, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1959, Act A/Cdre: 14 Nov 1964, A/Cdre: 1 Jan 1965, Act AVM: 16 Dec 1968, AVM: 1 Jul 1969, Act AM: 12 Apr 1975, AM: 1 Jul 1975.

Photo - 'Freddie' Ball whilst serving with No 1 PRU

Photo courtesy - Michael Prendergast and RAF Benson's Ethos and Heritage Facility

12 Jan 1939:                 Flight Cadet, 'A' Sqn,  RAF College.

23 Dec 1939:               Appointed to a Permanent Commission.

xx xxx 1939:                 Attended School of Army Co-operation

xx Apr/May 1940:        Pilot/Squadron Fire Officer, No 13 Sqn (Lysanders)

28 Sep - 21 Nov 1940:                        Attached to No 26 Sqn, RAF Gatwick for AA Calibration duties

28 Dec 1940 - 7 Feb 1941:                Attached to RAF Warmwell for rescue duties

12 May 1941:              Pilot, No 1 PRU

10 Sep 1942:               Officer Commanding, No 4 PRU

 1 Feb 1943:                Officer Commanding, No 682 Sqn (No 4 PRU re-numbered).

xx Jul 1943:                  Chief Flying Instructor, No 8 (C) OTU

28 Jan 1944:                 Staff Training Officer, HQ No 106 Wing

10 Feb 1944:                Admitted to RAF Hospital, Halton

13 Mar 1944:               Officer Commanding, No 542 Sqn.

xx Sep 1944:                Officer Commanding, No 540 Sqn

 1 - 16 Jun 1945:        Officer Commanding, No 104 Wing

 4 - 16 Jul 1945:        Officer Commanding, No 104 Wing

xx Jan 1946:                 Officer Commanding, No 680 Sqn

xx Sep 1946:                Officer Commanding, No 13 Sqn (No 680 Sqn re-numbered).

25 Dec 1946:               Squadron Leader - Organisation, AHQ East Africa

 1 Feb 1949:                 Staff Officer, Directorate of Intelligence (Operations).

xx Jan 1952:                 Attended RAF Staff College.

xx xxx 1953:                Attended No ? OCU (Canberra)

xx xxx 1953:                Officer Commanding - Operations Wing, RAF Wyton.

xx Dec 1956:                Air Staff, HQ Bomber Command.

 7 Nov 1959:                Group Captain - Operations, British Joint Services Mission - Washington.

11 Feb 1963:               Officer Commanding, RAF Honington.

14 Nov 1964:               AOA, HQ Air Forces Middle East.

xx xxx 1967:                 Attended Imperial Defence College.

28 Dec 1967:               Director of Operations, Bomber & Reconnaissance.

16 Dec 1968:               Air Executive to Deputy for Nuclear Affairs/ACoS ADP Division,  SHAPE.

31 May 1971:              Director-General of RAF Organisation.

26 May 1975:              UK Permanent Military Deputy, CENTO.

 8 Dec 1977:                Deputy C in C, Strike Command.

On 11 February 1942 during a routine reconnaissance mission over Brest, he was fortunate to catch on film the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen in harbour with their funnels smoking.  This turned out to be in preparation for the Channel Dash which started later that day.  Unfortunately, this warning was not acted upon and when it became obvious that the ships had left port and were sailing up the English Channel it was too late to prepare  adequate attacks.  Alfred Ball spent most of his operational career flying photo reconnaissance aircraft ranging from Lysanders through Spitfires and Mosquitoes to the jet Canberra and was involved in operations Europe, North Africa and the Middle East during WW2.

Born in India, he entered the RAF College, Cranwell in 1937 after attending Campbell College, Belfast  On graduating he joined an Army Co-Operation squadron flying Lysanders and took part in operations in France as part of the Air Component of the BEF.  Following the German attack on 10 May 1940, he flew road searches soon realising that the usual peacetime techniques were suicidal and decided to fly his sorties at treetop height. When the squadron’s Lysanders were withdrawn to England, he was forced to make his own way back, so along with 20 airmen, he commandeered a lorry, drove to Cherbourg and managed to escape by ship.  Following the fall of France he joined the PDU and soon started to make a name for himself in the field of photo-recce.  In October 1941 he flew into a thunderstorm at 25,000ft causing the aircraft to become uncontrollable.  On attempting to bale out, his canopy jammed and the turbulence was so strong that he was thrown through the canopy, fortunately he regained consciousness at 3,000ft and was able to open his parachute, landing in Norfolk.

On retirement, he became Military Affairs Adviser to ICL but also found time to be Vice-Chairman (Air) of the Council of Territorial, Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Associations as well as Hon. Air Commodore to No 2624 (County of Oxford) RAuxAF Regiment Squadron.

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

“Acting Squadron Leader Alfred Henry Wynne BALL, DF.C. (33532)

This officer has completed many reconnaissance’s over various towns, ports and airfields occupied by the enemy in Tunisia In addition he has made flights over Leghorn and Spezia in Italy.  On one occasion, over Tunisia, his aircraft was attacked by 4 enemy fighters.  By brilliant airmanship, Squadron Leader Ball frustrated, the attackers, and eventually shook them off.  Although his aircraft was damaged he flew on to an airfield where he effected a safe landing.  He is a fine leader who has contributed materially to the high standard of efficiency of the unit he command's.”

(London Gazette – 19 March 1943)

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

BALL, Alfred Henry Wynne, F/L (33532) - No 1 PRU

"Flight Lieutenant Ball has completed several long range reconnaissances, including flights over Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart.  He has always shown the greatest keenness for operational flying and has set a most praiseworthy example."

(Source - Air Ministry Bulletin 8219)

This page was last updated on 15/01/24

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