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Celwyn Ball, 1922–2016, RIP

Churchillian, Friend, Veteran, and Philatelist


In 1992, when I told Celwyn of my Latvian forebears and my wish to visit the Baltic, he said he knew it well, volunteered to accompany me, and made all arrangements for a tour. Generously he showed me places I never expected to see. I remember our strolling Bralu Kapi, Latvia’s Arlington, where heroes lie—and Celwyn musing, from his own experience, about what they must have gone through.

“Nothing surpasses 1940,” Churchill said, and quoted Tennyson: “Every morn brought forth a noble chance, And every chance brought forth a noble knight.” One of those, though he would never claim such distinction, was eighteen-year-old Celwyn Ball, who joined the British Army on 29 August 1940. (It was the day Churchill declared to General de Gaulle that any French colonies willing to continue the fight would be defended.)

Celwyn served as a motorcycle despatch rider with the First Army in the Middle East. In Palestine in 1945, he was wrecked by wire placed across the road by one of the warring parties. Sent home for surgery, he was hospitalized nine months, and always walked with a severe limp. His long row of British medals was accompanied by a US Bronze Star. He was discharged in September 1946, a week before his long, happy marriage to Patricia, whom he sadly lost in 2000. He left us in Moncton, New Brunswick on March 30th, at the fine age of 93.

BallCstampsLoDefOur friend combined an intense admiration of Sir Winston with determination to serve his memory in a unique way: his Churchill World Stamp Catalogue (2012) is the world’s most comprehensive compendium of Churchill commemorative postage. All Churchilllians should own a copy, whether they collect stamps or not. To obtain a copy, please CLICK HERE.

Celwyn served as the second president of the International Churchill Society of Canada from 1987 to 1990, and from 1991 to 1993 as chairman of the Council of Churchill Societies. He combined leadership with a reticence of manner that politely dismissed any attempt to thank him, though we did so frequently. Celwyn’s work insures that he will never be forgotten: a man never dies so long as he is remembered.

Richard Langworth is Senior Fellow for the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College and was editor of Finest Hour from 1982 to 2014.

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