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Ball, William H.

William H. Ball U.S. Army WWII
William H. Ball U.S. Army WWII


 
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Date of Birth: 9/14/1925
Died On: 12/20/2019
Street Address: 39 Palisade Road
Service Number: 42048703
Branch of Service: U.S. Army-WWII

Veteran Code: USARMY-27


BIOGRAPHY
 
William H. Ball

William H. Ball was born in New York in born September 14, 1925 in Rye to Cornelius F. and Anna Hunter. He had three sisters Jeanne, Betty, Anna and a brother Cornelius. In Rye his family lived at 39 Palisade Road and were members of the Church of the Resurrection. Bill attended the newly constructed Resurrection elementary school and graduated Rye High School in 1943.

The son of a policeman and grandson of Chief William H. Balls, as a young man Bill caddied at the Apawamis Club and worked as a lifeguard at both the old Oakland Beach Pool and the WCC Beach Club.

Shortly after graduating from Rye High School, 18 year old Bill Ball went to the Army Air Corp and tried to enlist. However, an old injury made him ineligible for the skies, but not for the Army. He was soon drafted "ONE A " by the Army and then Bill and thousands of other young men gathered at Penn Station in New York City and boarded trains bound for Fort Bragg, North Carolina for basic training.

He served in Patton's 3rd Army as a forward observer for "A Battery" of the 81st Field Artillery Battalion. For their actions in France, Belgium (Ardennes forest during the push to Bastogne and the broader Battle of the Bulge), Luxembourg, and ultimately Germany - his unit received numerous citations for valor from Generals Marshall, Middleton, and Eisenhower to name a few.

In a letter dated 9 May 1945, General Patten captures the efforts of the 81st and the entire Third Army succinctly: "During the 281 days of incessant and victorious combat, your penetrations have advanced further in less time than any other army in history. You have fought your way across 24 major rivers, and innumerable lesser streams. You have liberated or conquered more than 82,000 square miles of territory, including 1500 cites and towns, and some 12,000 inhabited places. Prior to the termination of active hostilities you have captured 956,000 enemy soldiers and killed or wounded at least 500,000 others. France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia bear witness to your exploits.''

Pfc Bill Ball was Honorably discharged on March 26, 1946.

He attended Kent State University in Oh on the GI Bill. After returning to Rye, Bill went to work for the Surface Transportation Co. of NY 1948. He reconnected with Constance White (RHS '45) and they were married on July 2 1949 and they would have five children.

His 40-year professional career began at the (now defunct) Third Avenue Bus Company but was spent primarily with the New York Telephone Company, where he experienced the Bell System's transformation to Nynex, then Bell Atlantic, then ultimately AT&T.

Over six decades, Bill did his part to build upon the Ball family's already established legacy of service to Rye.

He served two terms on the Rye City Council; was a District Leader of the Rye Republican Party, was a Rye Town Park Commissioner for 18 years, was a member of the Rye Golf Commission for 12 years, a member (and past President) of the Rye Lions' Club for 40+ years, a member American Legion post 128, and was a 60-plus year member (and ex-Chief, Poningo Hook & Ladder Co.) of the Rye Fire Department.

Having been taught the game by his father Corny during the hickory shaft era, Bill had a lifelong passion for golf, and he and Connie played countless rounds together at Rye Golf and beyond.

Bill's easygoing, friendly manner belied the fact that he had met and survived the greatest challenges of the 20th century - from the hardship of the Great Depression to the horror of war.

William H. Ball died of natural causes at the age of 94 on December 20, 2019.

Bill was in every sense a son of Rye, and when he passed the community lost a remarkable civic and institutional memory. Yet much of his loving family survived him. Though predeceased by his sisters Ann, Jeanne, and Betty as well as his wife Connie - at the time of his death, Bill was survived by his brother Neil (Bucky), daughters Barbara (McHugh), Corinne, Diane (Brendel), and sons Dave and Andy. Along with 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren all of whom will miss him eternally.

A mass of Christian burial was held at Resurrection Church on Friday, December 27, 2019




















Directly after a shortened basic training, Bill was shipped to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. Here he was assigned to the 81st Field Artillery Battalion The 81st was rotating from their previous duty in Alaska where they were tasked to defend vital naval ports and air fields in anticipation of a possible Japanese attack particularly in the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. At Chaffee the 81st which was being reconstituted to support infantry personnel in support of the upcoming invasion of Europe.

In July of 1944, Bill was back on a train for New York where he was being sent to Europe. In New Yorks harbor, was one of the most impressive ships of any era: the SS Queen Elizabeth. This ship had been pressed into duty by the British Government and was now assigned to ferry GIs across the pond. She was modified and re-designed for war time use. The officers and crew were British, but the defense of the ship was left to the Americans who manned the newly installed guns on her decks and were vigilant in her un-escorted crossing. The Queen Elizabeth made port in Clyde of Firth Scotland.

Shortly the 81st was sent to Christ Church, England where they were fully re-equipped including their workhorse: the 155 Howitzers. They soon departed England from nearby Weymouth on 25 September 1944 and landed in France at Omaha Beach. Upon landing the 81st was quickly re-routed and marched 619 miles in a matter of days to help defend a section of the western bank of Mosel River in Luxembourg.

It was after this that Bill unexpectedly bumped into his cousin Neal Ball in Metz. Neal was a Sgt. in the Military Police. After the war Neil returned to Rye and worked for the Post Office eventually becoming Post Master They celebrated with some champagne, swapped war stories and caught up on old times and friends. But just as quickly both were on their separate ways.

Shortly after this point the Germans had regrouped from the Allied invasion of Europe and launched their famous counter-attack- The Bulge in Mid-December. The 81st was then assigned to Gen. Pattens Third Army. From the onset the 81st was essential in supporting infantry troops, destroying bridges, harassing river crossings and basically anything to stymie the German western push and came under withering fire from German artillery.

Assigned to A Battalion in the 81st, Bill became a part of one of the many three-man forward observation teams used by artillery units. Each team included an officer, radioman Bill and a spotter who also used night vision glasses. They left the safety of their unit and snuck forward to locate the enemy, often traversing over hazardous terrain in incredibly foul weather both during day and night and often under enemy fire. Upon securing the enemy location coordinates were radioed back to the 81st for shelling. They sometimes put themselves at risk of friendly ordinance fire by getting as close as possible to the enemy for more precise information.


Bill soon met another old friend from Rye: Barty Lala. Barty was an infantryman who was small of stature and very fast. His unit was on the front lines and dared not use their radio. To communicate with other units and to summon artillery support Barty became their messenger, or Pidgeon sprinting between units, often under fire, delivering critical information. Just as he and Bill were catching up their units came under German rifle fire and Barty was wounded in the shoulder.

When discharged Barty got a job as a driver at the Rye Cab Co. and had a chrome pigeon mounted on the hood of his cab From there the 81st joined other units racing south in a blinding blizzard to the aid of General McCauliffe who was surrounded by Germans in the besieged town of Bastogne. The 81st then fought in the Battle of Ardennes in Belgium and northern Luxembourg. Bill also ran into other Rye friends including, Jimmy Murray who was heading to the Hurtgen Forest, Vinny Ianello of the 84th Infantry, who at one point had to hide under the porch of a home in a German occupied town for two days!

The 81st later pushed through the Siegfried Line pursuing the German army in support of Pattens infantry and fought in the Battle of Coblenz and crossed the Rhein at St Goar. The unit pushed east constantly coming under enemy fire and liberating numerous towns in the process. The 81st was re-assigned to the 1st Army. It near this time when many men of the 81st helped their quartermaster and brought as many blankets and first aid material to the nearby Nazi labor camp Dachau to help the reclamation and processing of the site.

On 7 May 1945 offensive operations against the German ceased as an unconditional cease fire is signed. While the official cease fire was under-way, there were still many pockets of German resistance and many towns that were in need of liberation that kept the 81st busy. At the border town of Zykow, Czechoslovakia they were ordered to halt for three days in anticipation of the arriving armies of the Soviet Union from the east. From 13 October 1944 until VE Day on 7 May 1945 the 81st unleashed an astonishing 39,009 rounds of 155mm ammunition during the Battle of the Bulge and drive to Germany.

The 81st then headed to Marseilles anxiously waiting to learn whether they were headed home or to Japan. Here Bill met Eddie McKiernan a high classmate at the Red Cross Center. After several weeks, Bill and the 81st boarded ships headed for the US and a Honorable Discharge from Ft Dix NJ an 25 March, 1946.

The 81st earned many commendations and citations for their efforts in the ETO including those from Gen. Eisenhower, Gen. Omar Bradley, Major Gen Middleton, Gen Hodges. The consistent theme of all these meritorious citations was the 81st was an outfit the doughboys liked to have behind them as penned by Major Allen.

In a letter dated 9 May 1945, General Patten captures the efforts of the 81st and the entire Third Army succinctly: "During the 281 days of incessant and victorious combat, your penetrations have advanced further in less time than any other army in history. You have fought your way across 24 major rivers, and innumerable lesser streams. You have liberated or conquered more than 82,000 square miles of territory, including 1500 cites and towns, and some 12,000 inhabited places. Prior to the termination of active hostilities you have captured 956,000 enemy soldiers and killed or wounded at least 500,000 others. France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia bear witness to your exploits.''

Pfc Bill Ball was Honorably discharged on March 26, 1946 and returned to Rye.

Links to this Veterans History


  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
 
5 of 5 Bill Ball January 25, 2022
Reviewer: John Grimaldi from gggrimaldi@outlook.com  
I grew up on Grapal Street wth Bill Ball as my friend and neighbor.  We played baseball out on the street and went swimming at WCC beach.  Bill's father, (Cornie) took me under his wing and was very kind to me. I loved the Ball family.


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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
 
5 of 5 My friend Bill Ball. January 9, 2021
Reviewer: John Grimaldi from gggrimaldi@outlook.com  
As kids, Bill Ball and I grew up on Grapal Street in Rye, NY.  He was a special friend all my life,. The Ball family will always remain in my heart  I loved them all.

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