My Family History
Leonard Ball - the Soldier
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Dad's pay records indicate that on 16th October 1918, he disembarked from the troopship Erinjuera at Bombay, India. On 22nd November 1918, he received a payment of 27 rupees 12 annas at Deolali, northeast of Bombay.
Early in 1919, Dad received authority for his journey home from India. The letter of authority says that he was selected as a "Demobilizer" or "Pivotal Man", proceeding under the authority of a War Office Telegram dated 9th December 1918, addressed to the Commander-in-Chief, India.
On the reverse of this document is a signed statment (right) that Dad was "free from infectious diseases and vermin". It is dated 17th February 1919.
After nearly three years service, Private 24137 Ball, F.L.'s period in the Army was over. He was awarded two medals: the Victory Medal, and the British War Medal, which, together with their ribbons, are still in our possession.
A copy of part of the relevant page from the Army Medal Roll is shown below. Dad's name is at the bottom.
After the war, a fourteen volume work entitled "The National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918" was published. The following entry is found in the volume devoted to Birmingham:
Entries in the National Roll were submitted either by the soldier himself or by his family, but Dad's entry contains at least one factual error: he enlisted in June, not February 1916. The most amazing revelation is the reference to his being hospitalised for eighteen weeks due to dysentery. We knew he suffered dysentery—his diary mentions an attack (of 'diarrhoea') in October 1917 involving a short stay in hospital—but we had no idea that he ever had an 18-week stay in hospital. Perhaps he suffered a recurrence of dysentery a year later. If so, this would explain the absence of any record between early October 1918, when he arrived in Bombay, and mid January 1919, when he began his passage home from India.