Image result for 30th old hickory divisionToday our European researcher, Joey van Meesen, took possession of the pocket knife owned by Prentice W. Ball. This WWII relic was found on April 1, 2018, by Frank van Vark and Joey’s dad, Ronald van Meesen. Traveling to Germany, Joey and his dad went back to the original location and foxhole where the knife was found.

In March 1945 Pfc Ball’s unit, A Company, 117th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division was in position preparing for their offensive farther into Germany. On March 22, 1945, in the woods south of Alpen, Germany, Pfc Ball and his platoon sat huddled in their foxholes awaiting orders to move forward and engage the enemy.

Joey in the foxhole where the knife was found. Most likely the foxhole Prentice W. Ball was in when he dropped his etched blade.

The next day, March 23, 1945, the 117th Regiment received the orders to move closer to the Rhine River to the town of Wallach. During this move, Prentice W. Ball apparently dropped his knife in the foxhole as his unit was moving out.

March 24, A & B Company of the 117th crossed the Rhine River at Wallach and took the town of Ork, capturing 150 German prisoners in the process.

The view from Joey and his dad’s location looking over the crossing site of the 117th, near Wallach on the Rhine River.

Fast forward 73 years. The recovered relic is an original Case XX Hunter’s knife with a bakelite handle. It stayed in good condition for all those years due to the superior construction and materials used in the manufacture of the knife.

During the second trip to the site, Joey captured the scene on film where Pfc Ball’s knife was found.  Joey can now send the knife back to Myra Miller (USA). Myra and team member, Sara Collins, will personally deliver the knife to the family in Alabama. A ceremony will be held on May 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm in Cullman, Alabama at West Point High School.

7 thoughts to “LEGACY: Lost & Found, The Foxhole of Prentice W. Ball

  • Dan Webster

    Great research and congratulations to everyone involved! What an awesome story! Keep up the good work, Footsteps Researchers!

    • Myra Miller, PhD

      Thank you so much! We know the daughters are thrilled… we can’t wait to see their faces when we return the knife to them!


  • Judy

    Simply incredible! Congratulations to all. What a team!

    • Myra Miller, PhD

      We are certainly having fun making families happy!

  • Jim McCord

    Good story with a nice outcome, thanks for sharing.This says a lot about the workmanship of Case products.We pass through Vinemont and Cullman when we make the 100 mile drive from our home in suburban Birmingham to my mother in law’s home in Huntsville so I am familiar with these areas in Alabama.Thanks again for the interesting article.

    • Myra Miller, PhD

      Thank you for responding. That was my first thought when I saw the knife…. how did it last that long in the ground? We have contacted the Zippo company in Pennsylvania that makes Case products to tell them about our find. I certainly hope they respond!

  • Dale Ball

    Huge thank you for the special ceremony today in presenting the knife of Prentice W. Ball back to his children. You people do amazing work and it shows in your presentation that it. Ones from your heart ❤️!!! Dale Ball, Vinemont, Al


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