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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
7,000 for war ace's last letter
Albert Ball's letter
Albert's words, written ust 24 hours before he was shot down
A letter penned by a First World War British flying ace the day before he was reportedly shot down by The Red Baron's brother has sold for 7,000.

Nottingham-born Captain Albert Ball, 20, brought down 43 German planes before being killed on 7 May, 1917 at Annoeullin, France.

A month later he was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery.

The letter, held by the Ball family for 88 years, sold at a Swindon auction to a New Zealand collector for 6,822.

The sum is to go the RAF Benevolent Fund.

It was a sporting chance, & all is OK
Captain Albert Ball's last letter

The day before he died Captain Ball wrote to his sister Lois, casually mentioning: "Well I made (shot down) my 42nd Hun yesterday, so am now four in front of the French."

Captain Ball, who was born in Nottingham, tells how his name failed to be drawn out of a hat and so he was not offered leave.

Auctioneer Chris Albury, of the Dominic Winter auction house in Swindon, Wilts, said: "This is not any old letter. I checked the dates and within 24 hours of him writing it, he was dead.

"Albert Ball was a real hero, so brave."

An engineering student when the war began, Captain Ball joined the Sherwood Foresters before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in 1915.

'I came last'

He won his Victoria Cross posthumously for conspicuous bravery displayed from 25 April to 6 May, 1917.

During this time, flying alone, he took part in 26 air battles, destroying 11 hostile planes.

The letter, signed "Albert" and dated May 6, is to his late sister Lol.

It reads: "Received your topping letter, & cake. It is good of you to think of me so much."

Mentioning how that day they had drawn lots for leave, he writes: "...I came last. It seems a bit hard, for all the other chaps are new, & have not been out before, also they have not got any Huns.

"But Lol, it was a sporting chance, & all is O.K."

The Germans claimed he was shot down by Lothar von Richthofen, younger brother of Manfred, aka The Red Baron, but this is not accepted by British sources.


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