Robert Ball

“I was born into a large family of fishermen, builders and undertakers in Bexhill-on-Sea and spent my formative years on our family’s luggers, trawling and long-lining along the south-east coast. At the outbreak of World War Two I began a six month deck training course in Norfolk at the Prince of Wales Sea Training School. I left the school aged 15 and signed on to my first ship, the SS Cortona. During the war I served on a variety of cargo and troopships, eventually helping to move men and transport equipment during the liberation of France in 1944.

“In March 2016, I was honoured to be awarded the Legion of Honour medal at the French Embassy for taking part in the D-Day landings. I left the Merchant Navy three years after the war ended and joined the family construction company where I studied to become a civil engineer and quantity surveyor. After qualifying I lived and worked abroad in West Africa and the West Indies with my wife Ilse. We retired and returned to Bexhill-on-Sea where we took up sailing together. Sadly my dear wife passed away in 2006.

“I heard about the Royal Alfred through the Merchant Navy Association and after visiting the Weston Acres estate, moved into my flat in December. I do not think I could have found a better place to spend the rest of my life. I love my flat and the view across the lawns makes me feel like I still have a garden of my own.

“Everyone has been so welcoming and the staff are very caring but ensure we are still able to retain our independence. The other residents have such varied seafaring backgrounds and I feel very privileged to be surrounded by so many like-minded companions.”

Back to News