The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Robert Gordon Ball

BALL, Robert Gordon

No evidence has yet been found that definitively links Robert Gordon Ball with Captain R Ball, R.A.M.C. who is listed as a Survivor from RMS Leinster but it appears to be very likely.

Robert Gordon Ball was born in Dublin on the 12th of February 1888 to Valentine Ball and Mary Stewart Moore, the youngest of their five children. Valentine Ball was a geologist who worked on the Geological Survey of India for seventeen years and, on his return to Ireland in 1881, became Professor of Geology and Mineralogy in the University of Dublin. He became Director of the Dublin Science and Art Museum, which later became the National Museum of Ireland. Mary and Valentine married in Greystones in 1879 and their first child, Katherine, was born in July 1880 but died nine months later, which may have prompted his permanent return from India.

The family lived in various parts of south Dublin including 1 Raglan Road until about 1885, when they moved to 28 Waterloo Road. Valentine died in 1895 at the age of fifty-one and in the 1901 census the four children, two boys and two girls were all ‘Scholars’. In 1911 both girls, Maude and Ethel, gave their occupation as ‘Artist’. Robert was a medical student and John cannot be found.

Robert Ball qualified M.B. from the University of Dublin in 1911 but it is not known where he practised then. In January 1914, presumably having joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, he left for the Gold Coast as part of the West African Frontier Force, which had been formed in 1900 and which saw action in Cameroon 1914-1916. He became a Temporary Lieutenant and appears to have been home on leave in November 1915 and in August 1918 he was promoted to Captain.

Presumably home again on leave in October 1918 he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th. He survived the sinking but, apart from the name Captain R Ball, R.A.M.C. on the list of survivors, no account of his involvement in the event was made public. It is not clear if he returned to Africa, but on the 3rd of February 1920 he died in the King George V Military hospital in Dublin. The death certificate gave Heart Disease, present for two years, and Cardiac Failure as the cause of death while the Roll of Honour, published in the Weekly Irish Times on the 14th of February, stated that he “died of illness contracted on active service, in the Cameroons”.



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