Iball, Albert

Albert Iball was the son of William and Mary Iball of Wynne’s Yard, 77 Mold Rd, Buckley. His mother was Mary Iball and he had 3 brothers, William, Peter & John, and 4 sisters, Martha, Marrian, Bessie & Esther. Albert’s father William also served in the war in the 19th  Btn RWF. His Number was 28601 and he enlisted in 1915 and was demobbed 1919 when he was 49.

From Tony Iball:
From a series of tattered and half burnt service records it is possible to piece together Albert’s military career.
On 10 March 1914 he was declared fit for the Territorial Force. In a character reference given by Geo Parry, Undermanager of 110 Liverpool Road we learn that Albert had been a labourer for two years and that he was of a sober and honest disposition. Albert’s stay in the Territorial Force was very brief; just 37 days as on 17 April 1914 he joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Special Reserve. This move was preceded by the mandatory medical examination and further details about Albert were forthcoming.
Albert was 17 years and 37 days old on 16 April 1914 and was a coal miner or more probably a labourer at a colliery. He weighed 116 pounds and was 5 feet 5 inches tall. His chest measurement when fully expanded was 34½ inches and the range of expansion was 2 inches. His pulse rate was fair and his vision was 6/6 in both the right and left eyes. He had 3 vaccination marks on his left arm, which had been there since infancy. He declared that he had never been an apprentice, never been imprisoned and never married. He said that he was a member of the Church of England.
Albert’s career in the Army Reserve was equally brief for after 100 days he was discharged so that he could join the regular army; the 3rd Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers in which he applied to be enlisted on 24 July 1914. He was then 17 years and 138 days old. In yet another medical checkup we discover that Albert had small scars above his right and left eyes and a long scar on the left side of his neck. He had, we are also told, grey eyes and auburn hair.
Albert’s time in the Army during 1914 and 1915 appears to have been difficult with a chequered history as he came up against the disciplinary powers on many occasions.
Albert’s regiment left England soon after and arrived in the Balkans at Gallipoli on 26 October 1915. Activities there were at a stalemate thanks to the failure of the Corps Commander to exploit successes, which allowed the enemy time to recover. Life settled into an unpleasant routine of trench duty and digging with occasional heavy shelling. On 26 November a very heavy thunderstorm flooded the trenches and soldiers had to operate knee deep in mud. The next day there was snow and freezing temperatures to contend with. By mid-December forces were evacuated ending up at Port Said in Egypt on 31 January 1916.

On 14 February 1916 Albert embarked at Port Said for Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and arrived at Basra on 28 February 1916. The Mesopotamian Campaign began as a small expedition, turned into a disaster but ended in triumph. However in the meantime many lives were lost unnecessarily because of bad generalship and disease, especially dysentery which was an ever present enemy and as dangerous as the Turks, brought on by one of the most extreme climates in the world.
Albert’s division was the only British one to serve in Iraq as the others were Indian.
By 2 March 1916 forces had moved up the Tigris River and arrived at Shaikh Said on the 27th. A few days later, on 2 April 1916 they were engaged in the third attempt to relieve Kut and Amara. On 5 April 1916 the 8 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers saw action at Fallahiya, about 20 miles from Kut, where the front was restricted to 1000 metres by the flooded river Tigris and salt marsh. The three Turkish lines were taken, but in the process the 8 Bn suffered almost 200 casualties, including Private Albert Iball. As a result of the hostilities both Hanna and Fallahiya were captured.
Albert’s mother received as a matter of course the three World War 1 medals awarded to all combatants: 1914-15 Star: Medal Roll J/2/2B1 page 103; British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal: Medal Roll J/2/102 B4 page 1034.
The location of Albert’s grave is unknown, but he is remembered at the Basra Memorial on Panel 15.

The name Iball appears six times on the Hawkesbury Memorial (Albert, Charles, George, Llewellyn, I. J., and Thomas), plus James is on the Bistre Memorial. Charles, George, and James were brothers, sons of Peter and Martha, living in Doncaster but born in Buckley. Iball is a uniquely Buckley name; in 1881, every one of the 71 people with the Iball name in England, Wales and Scotland lived in Buckley. In statistical terms the number of Iball men who died was about five times greater than would be predicted based on population. This does not count Reuben Stanley, killed in 1918, who was the son of Thomas Stanley and Elizabeth Iball, daughter of William and Phoebe Iball. Albert Iball of Langold, Nottinghamshire and William Harold Iball of Abergavenny were killed in WW2.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Buckley Memorial

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