Legendary pilot’s violin to be played at at RAF College Cranwell Band concert

Vanda Day presents Albert Ball's violin to SAC Shane Underwood. EMN-180911-122747001
Vanda Day presents Albert Ball's violin to SAC Shane Underwood. EMN-180911-122747001

An iconic violin belonging to First World War flying ace Captain Albert Ball will be played at the November 16 RAF100 Celebration Concert by the Band of the RAF College Cranwell and Cranwell Military Wives Choir.

Albert Ball’s great niece Vanda Day has lent the restored violin to the Band of the Royal Air Force College for the event, to be played in St Wulfram’s Church in Grantham by SAC Shane Underwood as part of a 617 Squadron Past and Present concert medley linking past and present.

Until last weekend, when the violin was played in Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall Armistice Centenary Concert by Braimah Kanneh-Mason, it has remained untouched since the much-decorated Albert Ball died in battle over France in 1917.

Concert organiser South Kesteven District Council’s summer RAF100 commemorative programme included an exhibition at Grantham Museum to reflect Albert Ball’s days as a pupil at the town’s King’s School.

SAC Underwood, a bassoon player with the band, received the violin from Vanda at the concert rehearsal at RAF Cranwell on Tuesday, saying: “It’s an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to play such a special instrument, if a little scary.”

Albert Ball played the violin on the allotment he tended in Northern France to escape from the horrors of airborne warfare, his gallantry in achieving 44 victories gaining him a posthumous Victoria Cross to add to his Military Cross and Distinguished Service Orders.

The violin is one of the precious artefacts in Vanda’s collection, with others on show at the museum.

She said: “I am delighted to think that it will be heard in Grantham, just a stone’s throw from where Albert attended the King’s School.”

Tickets are available at www.guildhallartscentre.com or from the Box Office on 01476 406158.