Charles Frederick Ball, 13 September 1915 Private Charles Frederick Ball, service number 16445, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (Pals Battalion), died Gallipoli on 13/09/1915, aged 36.
“A delightful companion, unassuming, sincere and a most lovable man…” quoted from a short and touching obituary and portrait was also published in The Garden (October 16, 1915, p.514) by his friend and fellow soldier , the editor Herbert Cowley (who had been invalided out of the army)
Ball is buried at Grave Reference II. A. 8, Lala Baba Cemetery, Turkey. This cemetery was created from smaller burial grounds after the Armistice on a low hill between the southern side of Suvla Bay and a salt lake. The hill was taken in the fierce fighting of August 1915 during the Gallipolli campaign against the Turks, a doomed amphibious landing which was the brainchild of Winston Churchill.
Charles was the son of the late Alfred and Mary Ball, of Loughborough and husband of Alice A. Ball, of 15, Percy Place, Dublin, whom he married in Dublin on December 16, 1914. This was one of many such wartime marriages mentioned in the Wedding Bells section of the Kew Guild Journal.
Ball had left Kew in August 1903 to work as Assistant and later Foreman at the Royal Botanic Gardens Glasnevin in Dublin. He was also editor of Irish Gardening and a friend and fellow travelling companion to Bulgaria with Kew collegue and Alpine plant enthusiast Herbert Cowley, injured in the First World World War (see previous Blog post on Cowley). His wife Alice chose the Biblical inscription on his headstone: “Greater Love Has no Man than This”.
A Life Member of the Kew Guild, there is a lengthy tribute to Charles Ball in the Kew Guild Journal including a final sighting of him just before he died, sheltering behind a rock under fire, digging away at ‘weeds’ with his bayonet to send back home seeds to his botanic garden colleagues. From the tone of the account, this seemingly strange behaviour had happened several times!
His obituary notes that: ” Even while on active service in Gallipoli his love of collecting persisted, and numerous seedlings are growing on at Glasnevin from seeds he sent home, gathered in the vicinity of Suvla Bay.” Oak seeds were sent back by a Kew officer from Gallipoli for cultivation at Kew (see W.H. Morland’s entry).
Later entries in the Kew Guild Journal 1921 are from Old Kewites who had travelled across this area, noting as botanists and gardeners would, what native plants were found there, soil types and climate along with the planting by the then Imperial War Graves Commission (now CWGC). Kew staff and Old Kewites were involved for many years as horticultural advisors to the Commission.
A cultivar of the South American shrub Escallonia is named ‘C.F. Ball’ in his memory, a beautiful shrub with dark green leaves and bright red flowers, excellent for bees. It is available from many nurseries.
There is more about C.F. ball on the Flower of the Dublin Fusiliers message board.
C. F. Ball, died Gallipoli 13 September 1915, remembered.
Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.