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Heroes of the Air: Captain Albert Ball

Link - Posted by David on April 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 23 July 1938 issue of Flying:


CAPTAIN ALBERT BALL was awarded the V.C. for a series of conspicuously brave actions, unlike many others who received this high award for one gallant deed alone. Born in Nottingham, he was not nineteen years old when he arrived in France to join No. 13 Squadron. That was in February, 1915, and for a few months he was flying B.E.2C.’s. His courage and his habit of engaging all enemy machines on sight soon won him a transfer to a Fighter Squadron: No. 11, which was equipped with Nieuport Scouts. Towards the end of June he scored his first victory, a balloon. It was tne first and last he shot down, for he thought balloon straffing “a rotten job.” For a short time he went back to a two-seater squadron, but he soon returned to fly Nieuports. His score of enemy machines rose rapidly until, in 1917, it had passed forty. By this time he was serving in the renowned 56 Squadron, where S.E.5’s were used, and it was in an S.E.5 that Ball met his death. All that is really known of his death is that it occurred on May 7, 1917, over Anoellin. How he died is not known, for, although there were many witnesses, their accounts differ very widely. Thus passed Albert Ball, like the great Guynemer, his death shrouded in mystery.

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