Ball studied at the Lenton Church School, Grantham Grammar School and Nottingham High School before transferring to Trent College in January 1911, at the age of 14. As a student he displayed only average ability, but was able to develop his curiosity for things mechanical. His best subjects were carpentry, modelling, violin and photography. He also served in the Officers' Training Corps. When Albert left school in December 1913, aged 17, his father helped him gain employment at Universal Engineering Works near the family home.
First World War
Initial military service
Following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Ball enlisted in the British Army, joining the 2/7th (Robin Hood) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). Soon promoted to sergeant, he gained his commission as a second lieutenant on 29 October. He was assigned to training recruits, but this rear-echelon role irked him. In an attempt to see action, he transferred early the following year to the North Midlands Cyclist Company, Divisional Mounted Troops, but remained confined to a posting in England. On 24 February 1915, he wrote to his parents, "I have just sent five boys to France, and I hear that they will be in the firing line on Monday. It is just my