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Samuel James Ball was born on the 23rd March 1890 in Longridge and was baptised in the Parish Church of St. Lawrence by his parents Thomas William and Isabella Jane Ball (nee Roper). Thomas William Ball, a quarryman, was from Kings Cliffe in Northamptonshire and Isabella Roper, a weaver, was born in Walton le Dale, the couple married in St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge on the 17th June 1890.

In 1891 the Ball family lived at 1 Dunderdale Street in Longridge. Three years later on the 16th August 1893 Thomas and Isabella had another son and they named him Thomas William after his father. By the time of the 1901 Census Samuel and his family had moved to 13 Chapel Street in Longridge where his father was employed in the one of the local stone quarries and his mother worked as a weaver. It does appear that at some point after the 1901 Census the Ball family moved to Nelson in East Lancashire where sadly Samuel`s brother Thomas William died aged just 13 years old, his death being registered at Burnley in the January quarter of 1906. Just twelve months later Samuel`s father also passed away, his death occurring in the April quarter of 1907 and his death was also registered at Burnley.

Three years after her husband`s death Isabella Jane Ball remarried to widower William Harrison at St. John the Evangelist Church in Great Marsden. After their marriage Isabella returned to live in Longridge with her new husband and the four children from his previous marriage; Margaret (1896), John (1899), William Henry (1902) and Lizzie (1904). In the Census of 1911 Isabella, William and the children were all living at 11 Humber Street in Longridge. William Harrison`s occupation is noted as a `Co-operative carter` and his daughter Margaret was a draper`s assistant. Also boarding with the family was a 50 year old single chap, Thomas Roper, a retired miner from Claughton near Lancaster. Samuel was not living with his mother and stepfather in 1911, he was boarding at 30 Moor Street in Blackburn whilst working as an `out porter` at the station.

Samuel James Ball`s service papers are missing so we cannot be certain when he actually enlisted.  At his enlistment he was issued with the service number 2312 and was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. However, the number he was given was not too far removed from that of John Moncur, another Longridge Territorial who enlisted on the 3rd September 1914 so it`s possible that Samuel may have joined around the same time.

After several months of training the 1/4th Battalion received orders to prepare for embarkation and on the 2nd May 1915, Major Foley, Second Lieutenant Harris (Transport Officer), Machine Gun Officer and 104 other ranks together with the whole of the Battalion Transport, entrained at Ballast Pit Siding in Bedford at one o`clock in the morning, arriving at Southampton at 1.30am, where they embarked on the SS Rossetti, sailing at 4.30pm and arriving in Le Havre at 3am on the morning of the 3rd May. On the evening of the 3rd May, Samuel together with the main body of the Battalion entrained at Ballast Pit Sidings in two trains, and travelled down to Folkestone, arriving around midnight and marching straight down to the boat the SS Onward, casting off at 1.30am.

Battalion War History; The observations of an unnamed soldier;

“At last we were really on our way, after all the delays and waitings, we were going overseas like all the rest! And it had all been done so quickly, that only now, as we stood on the darkened boat and watched the lights of England receding, did we begin to realise what it meant – this stealthy journey of nearly a thousand souls across the Channel, which many of us had never seen before, and which many were never to see again”.

The 1/4th Battalion`s first experience of the trenches came just three weeks after landing in France when they went into the line on the 25th May 1915. 2316 Lance Corporal Anthony Thornber, another Longridge Territorial, sent a letter to a friend in Preston describing their experience, an extract from the letter was printed in the Preston Guardian on the 21st June 1915;

“We had had a week in the trenches, and although we were put straight in the firing line – our Company I mean – we did not fire a shot, except at snipers. We had a few casualties, a few by snipers, but the rest were done by shell fire. It was pretty rough at times I can tell you. What was worst in the trenches, was that we couldn`t get much sleep. Corporal Moss was wounded pretty badly. He was with a working party, and the Germans started with their shrapnel straight on the party. Four of them were wounded. Moss was the worst. They had to come past us in the trenches to get to the dressing station, and poor Cpl Moss seemed to have got it pretty rough. He came past us on a stretcher, so I don`t know where he will be now – in hospital somewhere. We had only one killed but 40 wounded. Parsons is still alright. I was surprised when I heard that father had joined. Wonders never cease. He will be alright though. If you only knew what these German soldiers do out here, you would not have much pity for them. When you go to Longridge I am thinking that you will not see many knocking about as I hear nearly 100 have gone out since Whitsuntide, apart from those already out”

Authors Note: 2316 later 200582 Sgt. Anthony Thornber was wounded on 9/9/16 and subsequently discharged on the 17/9/17.

After being relieved the Battalion spent a brief rest period in billets before being sent up to the trenches around Festubert. Orders were then received for an attack which was scheduled to take place on the evening of the 15th June 1915, the attack often later described as `the great bayonet charge`. Read more about the attack (click here)

Sadly, after the attack Samuel James Ball was one of many men listed as missing.  After his mother Isabella had been informed she had the following notice published in the Preston Guardian;2312 Private Samuel James Ball 1

Several months later Samuel`s mother would have been informed for official purposes that her son was presumed to have died on or since the 15th June 1915.

Samuel has no known grave and as such his name was later recorded on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

After the war his mother would have received his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled. Isabella would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

Samuel`s name is also remembered on the Memorial Plaque inside St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge.St. Lawrence`s Church in Longridge panel

Rank: Private
Service No: 2312
Date of Death: 15/06/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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