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WWII Barrage Balloon Sites

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Phil Bonner

Guest
:) I am researching the Birmingham Barrage Balloon Squadrons, formed in 1939 and manned by the local population as part of the Auxiliary Air Force.  For the North Birmingham Barrage there were 3 Squadrons, 911, 912 & 913, under No 5 Balloon Centre at Sutton Coldfield.  For the South Barrage, the 3 Squadrons were 914, 915 & 916 Sqn, under No 6 Balloon Centre at RAF Wythall.  They were all called up in August 1939.   No history of their existence has been recorded, and I hope to put this right by writing up a record for all to  have access to. 
  Looking through the Squadron Operational records, there is no reference to where a balloon site was.  There is only a reference to a site number, eg 914 Sqn site No 15, sometimes abbreviated to 14/15.  By 1942 there were 150 balloon sites in Birmingham.   If anyone knows the location of any of the sites, I would be grateful for any information, or reminiscences.
      Phil Bonner
 
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O.C.

Guest
Phil, Nice to see you are intrested in keeping the memory of the forgotten men alive
RAF Balloon Barrage unit was stationed at Ridgeacre Rd Quinton 1940, another was opposite the corner of Swinford rd and Stonehouse Hill which was a site in 1941. In March 1939 a big barrage balloon demonstration was held at Aston Park.
 

The Baron

master brummie
I can recall walking down Park Rd ASTON towards the Parish Church & seeing a Barrage Balloon in what later became the cricket field in ASTON PARK. Some time In later years I remember playing on a very large area of concret with big  bent over metal hooked bars around the edges, This must have been were the Balloon had been held down.

ASTON
 

gingerjon

master brummie
The Oaklands Soho road Handsworth opposite Booth street there used to be a large grassed area this was known as the Oaklands the balloon used to be inside the entrance on the right hand site the concrete moorings were there for years
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
:) Thanks for the replies.  I believe I might have a site number for the Ridgeacre Rd site, possibly 915 Sqn.  The photo of the balloon demonstration in Aston Park is a real gem.  I believe the demonstration was put on by personnel from 905 Sqn, from No 2 Balloon Centre at Hook Surrey.  The London Balloon Squadrons had been formed about 12 months earlier.  Representatives from the Birmingham Squadrons were present to recruit new members.   It would be great to find a site where the concrete stowage block is still in the ground.   
 

dennis

master brummie
Phil,
There must have been a unit some where in Witton,
as I can remember one breaking loose and trailing wires over the roofs of houses,
and also one being struck by lightning and bursting into flames
 

pudsey

gone but not forgotten
Phil, If you haven't already tried it Google Barrage Balloons there's a lot of links to sites ,some with a reference to Birmingham

Colin
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
Yes Dennis the one in Witton was at the back of the allotments on Brookvale Road, on the Erdington side of the canal. Brian says there was also an anti aircraft gun.
 

The Baron

master brummie
Di I think the Anti Aircraft Gun may have been on the GEC Magnet Club Grounds, as Iremember my Dad telling me about the GEC have in a Gun based on site, Can any one confirm?
ASTON
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
:)  Concerning the Balloon site in Witton, would that have been in Brookvale Park?  Does anyone know if there was also a site in Witton Park as well?
     I had a letter from a former WAAF who was based on a site in Witton, and she spoke of collecting water from a lake, but that description could fit both Witton & Brookvale Parks.
    Thanks for the replies.  Have made good use of Google search & the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club, but right now I'm dependent on local knowledge for the actual balloon sites.
 

Oisin

gone but not forgotten
Phil,
Dunno ifthis is any good, it's taken from the main Handsworth site "Defending Handsworth" and shows a balloon in Handsworth that I believe is in addition to the one mention by John H.
 
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O.C.

Guest
Phil I have one or two photo of the barrage Balloons which I was not going to post, but as you are intrested I will scan them and post them in a day or two,where they were taken is anyones guess as it even says on one the height they can go to is top secret (I suppose it was then)
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
Hi Phill, the Balloon in Witton was on the allotment which runs along from the canal towards Marsh Hill, and my husband is certain there was a gun, which was guarded by the royal artillery, and there were Italian prisoners of war who loaded the gun. His dad kept a pig about 150yards away.

At one point the balloon was relocated to Witton Lakes, and never returned to the allotments.
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
Oisin, Thanks for that contact from the Handsworth site, another one for the list.

 Cromwell, I look forward to seeing the photos.  Everything was classified in those days, which is possibly one reason why the site locations weren't always given in the Squadron Operational Records.  The records for the Squadrons were kept classified up until the 1970s.  Incidentally, each balloon was given a serial number, similar to the way aircraft have a serial number.  In the records, the balloons at particular sites are often mentioned by their serial number.  So, if the balloons in the photos have a serial number there is an outside chance they can be referenced to a site.
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
Di.Poppitt   Thanks for the clarification on the Witton site, the 2 locations looked too close to each other to be separate sites. Do you know when the site was relocated?
    I am using the Allday's Map Of Birmingham printed in 1938 to plot out the sites, as that was the map 914 & 915 Squadrons used to reference their sites.  Amazing how the City has changed.
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Phil
Have a look at the shadow by the chap on the left,I am sure it is a balloon transporter, cab and the two large blocks of concrete
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
Hi Phill, sorry Brian can't tell me the date the ballon relocated to Witton Lakes. But he does think that it was due to the flight path of the German bombers.
 
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