Burial At Sea in 1915

Sunday, February 14, 1915

On Board H.M. Transport “Australind,” (Captain Sidney Angell)

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Weather moderated.  Held Orderly Room on deck.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: The Battalion history records:  “On February 14th the weather moderated and at noon the body of the unfortunate artilleryman was committed to the sea, Canon Sylvestre, Roman Catholic Chaplain of the 14th, reading the burial service, and military honours being paid by members of the dead man’s unit and by officers and men of the 14th, who stood respectfully by.    At night the coast of France was sighted.”   [2]

 No. 42437, GUNNER WILLIAM JOHN BALL: The unfortunate man who lost his life was Gunner William John Ball, #42437, born in 1869 at Little Coxwell, near Farrington, Berkshire, England.  He was a ‘teamster’ who had over 13 years prior service in the Royal Artillery before enlisting with the 9th Battery, Canadian Artillery in 1914. He was buried at sea the day following his death. He left to mourn his death, his wife Annie of Toronto, who returned to England after his death.

Gunner Ball’s name is recorded on the The Hollybrook Memorial situated in Southampton (Hollybrook) Cemetery.  “This Memorial commemorates by name almost 1,900 servicemen and women of the Commonwealth land and air forces* whose graves are not known, many of whom were lost in transports or other vessels torpedoed or mined in home waters.  (*Officers and men of the Commonwealth’s navies who have no grave but the sea are commemorated on memorials elsewhere).  The memorial also bears the names of those who were lost or buried at sea, or who died at home but whose bodies could not be recovered for burial. Almost one third of the names on the memorial are those of officers and men of the South African Native Labour Corps, who died when the troop transport Mendi sank in the Channel following a collision on 21 February 1917.  Lives lost in the sinking of numerous other vessels are also commemorated here.”   [3]

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Feb 14, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089693.jpg
[2]    R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 25.
[3]   http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/142019/HOLLYBROOK%20MEMORIAL,%20SOUTHAMPTON


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