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WWII Barrage Balloon Sites

Dave Richo

New Member
:) 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.ÂÂ
 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
 

Dave Richo

New Member
Hello Shortie and Willey, Thank you for your responses. Romilley Avenue rang no bells, although Wood Lane caused a faint tinkle (but that might be due to it being such a common street name). Looking at the area on Google Earth, it appears that the area has been considerably redeveloped. All I remember about the houses that were there then was that they appeared to my very young eyes to be very tall and thin. As I remember them, they were probably late Edwardian, on three floors, semi-detached, with sloping front gardens, and long narrow rear gardens at the end of which was a rough access lane, on the other side of which was the rec. Many of the houses had garages at the end of the garden, opening onto the lane.
I have photos on Handsworth Park WAAF with houses in the back ground 1942
 

caggyken

master brummie
I have photos on Handsworth Park WAAF with houses in the back ground 1942
There was a site at the top of Formans Rd Sparkhill ,it was at the back of the Lucas factory on the edge of the Burgundy brick yard clayhole. I lived in Formans Rd at the time and remember it quite well.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
I have photos on Handsworth Park WAAF with houses in the back ground 1942
Hello Dave,
Welcome to the forum, why not upload your photos?
Some of us really old ones on here actually saw barrage balloons in the sky when we were kids ...
oldmohawk ...:)
 

perry commoner

master brummie
There was a BB site in Perry Common Recreation Ground immediately behind the houses on the corner of Dovedale Road and Witton Lodge Road. Until at least 1954, there were several heavy iron mooring rings concreted into the ground. I left Birmingham in 1965 so I have no idea what has happened to the area. I doubt if they are still there.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Hello Dave,
Welcome to the forum, why not upload your photos?
Some of us really old ones on here actually saw barrage balloons in the sky when we were kids ...
oldmohawk ...:)
From my bedroom window, when a child, I could see one of the RAF Wythall balloons. I must have been worried by its appearance in the sky initially, but it seems I was persuaded to call it Barry and say "night night Barry". This was, I guess, in the early part of WW2, probably 1940/41 at the time of the blitz and heaviest bombing.
 

philm

proper brummie kid
:) 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.ÂÂ
 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
There was a barrage balloon unit in a playing field off Oakhurst Road, Acocks Green. It was manned by a team of women, WAAFs I think. At least they wore WAAF type uniforms. I remember them hauling the balloon down in the morning after it being up in the sky all night during the blitz. There was a large drum of steel cable mounted on the back of a lorry to which the balloon was attached.

Regards

Philm
 

Banjo

master brummie
In the early 1960s I regularly cycled from Aston to Drayton Manor Park to fish for pike and remember seeing one opposite the Tyburn Pub.
 

JohnWish

master brummie
Perhaps slightly off topic but was an ack ack gun in Digby Park Small Heath. Just after the war, when there was snow we used to build a 'fort' where it had been. (Imagine an igloo without a roof.) There were some fierce snowball fights to try to capture it.
 

Elmdon Boy

master brummie
In the early 1960s I regularly cycled from Aston to Drayton Manor Park to fish for pike and remember seeing one opposite the Tyburn Pub.
This could have been at Castle Bromwich Aerodrome as they used balloons there to jump out of.
Mind you 1960 was a bit late as the airfield closed in 1958.
 

Hurricaneplanes

master brummie
My father joined the RAF in 1939 and due to his age,38, was posted to a Balloon Barage Site opposite the WBA Football Ground behind Hawleys Bakery and Webley and Scott where there was a small park. I visited him there many times before he was moved to a site in Highgate Bham. Hope that this might help.
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
From my bedroom window, when a child, I could see one of the RAF Wythall balloons. I must have been worried by its appearance in the sky initially, but it seems I was persuaded to call it Barry and say "night night Barry". This was, I guess, in the early part of WW2, probably 1940/41 at the time of the blitz and heaviest bombing.
Where were you living, at the time you could see the balloon ?
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
Quite possibly Baz. After all I was young and had not yet got around to 'clocking the joint'. Wythall and Maypole were not that far apart I guess.
I was visualising a line of sight from Shirley station that went over the aqueduct (Peterbrook Rd), the sandpits, Berry Mound and The Stiles. Not a great distance, as the crow flies. Last time I was over those fields you could see the Druids Heath tower blocks from there, so I imagine the Maypole Lane balloon would be quite visible too.
 

JohnWish

master brummie
Perhaps slightly off topic but was an ack ack gun in Digby Park Small Heath. Just after the war, when there was snow we used to build a 'fort' where it had been. (Imagine an igloo without a roof.) There were some fierce snowball fights to try to capture it.
After sending my post I began to dig deep in my memory banks. How did I know about this gun? In Autumn 1941, after just 2 weeks at Marlborough Road Infants, I went to Yorkshire. My father was in a reserved occupation and had been sent there. We returned to Small Heath sometime after VE day. Digging very deep now ... by that time there was only some sort of hard standing in Digby Park. Who told me what it was for? Were they trying to mislead this young lad who wore clogs with what seemed to have horseshoes on their soles and did not have a collection of shrapnel?
 

wendylee

master brummie
I put the photo below in another thread. It is a view from Charles Henry Street across towards Highgate Park and Rowton House and shows a barrage balloon centre of the pic just below the skyline. Presumably it is connected to the Highgate site.

from https://birminghamhistory.co.uk/forum/index.php?threads/then-now.44065/post-641968 image only visible if logged in.
Wow, I have never seen a barrage balloon, but seeing that one I didnt realise they were situated that low in the sky. Its funny how you visualise things you hear about but have never seen...Wendy
 
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