Not long ago I was in a shop and was drawn to a book sitting alone atop a small table. The first thing I saw when I opened it up was the wonderful inscription “To Edmund From Daddy May 1917 (On leave in England)“. When I turned the page I found Edmund had conveniently written “Edmund Ball, Vernon B.C.“.
Edmund’s father was Frederick James Cooper Ball. He was born in Guildford, Surrey in 1881 and served in the South African Constabulary from June 1901 to June 1904. The SAC had a sizeable Canadian contingent and so perhaps this factored into Frederick’s decision to emigrate to Canada in 1904.
Frederick married Della Wales in 1905 and moved to the United States where two children, including Edmund, were born. He returned to Canada and was living in British Columbia when war broke out. He joined the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles in December 1914 but transferred to the 54th Battalion in May of the following year where he was promoted to Signalling Sergeant. He was discharged on September 18 but ten days later he enlisted with the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders in Vancouver.
Frederick and the 72nd embarked for Britain in April 1916 and arrived in France in August of that year. He remained with the 72nd until May 10, 1917 when he returned to England “with a view to being granted a commission“. It was during his leave that he purchased “Our Empire Story” for his 10-year old son Edmund.
In September 1917, after completing his Officer Training Course courses in Bexhill, Frederick was granted a commission as a Lieutenant in the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion. Within weeks of his appointment he was admitted to hospital with tonsillitis. After recovering he served with a variety of units in England for the remainder of the war before returning to Vernon in 1919 to raise his family. Frederick spent the last 30 years of his life on Salt Spring Island until his death in 1972.