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WWII Barrage Balloon Sites

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Phil Bonner

Guest
Di.Poppitt   Thanks for the feedback from Brian.  The site belonged to either 911 or 913 Sqn.  The next time I get access to their records I'll look out for references to a site relocation, which might enable me to put a site number to the location.

Cromwell.  I am intrigued by the last photo of the WAAFs making the balloon.  It looks too small to be an LZ (Low Zone) barrage balloon, so I'll do some checking up.

     Thanks for the replies
               Phil
:)
 

GEFF

Geff
THERE WAS A BARRAGE BALLOON SITE ON THE GROUNDS OF THE THEN NAMED" SALTLEY SECONDARY SCHOOL" IN BELCHERS LANE BETWEEN BORDESLEY GREEN EAST ("THE BROADWAY" ) PUB AND ALUM ROCK ("THE PELHAM") PUB, THE BALLON CAME DOWN ONE AFTERNOON IN THE EARLY PART OF THE WAR AND DAMAGED A NUMBER OF HOUSE ROOFS IN CALDWELL ROAD WERE I LIVED. GEFF
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
Thanks Geff.  Can you remember which year, and approximately which month?  Were there any huts on the site?
 
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O.C.

Guest
Phil how many of these did we have, do you know ? Mobile's so they could be moved around from place to place to be used on a street corner, factory yard etc.
 

brummie nick

master brummie
Hi Phil, found this on the web.



No. 31 (BALLLON BARRAGE) GROUP, BIRMINGHAM.

(Air Commodore J. C. Quinnell)



No. 5 Balloon Centre, Sutton Coldfield.

911 48 balloons West Bromwich

913 40 balloons Sutton Coldfield

962 24 balloons Milford Haven

(9 waterborne)



No. 6 Balloon Centre, Wythall Near Alvechurch, Birmingham.

914 40 balloons Northfield

915 40 balloons Rowkeath

916 32 balloons Coventry

917 24 ballons Coventry
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
brummie nick. Thanks for searching the web about the Squadrons. I had come across that page. It gives the balloon states for August 1940, by which time 912 Sqn had been sent to France & evacuated in the May. On return to England they did not return to Birmingham, which is why they did not feature in the list. I believe 962 was formed after the start of the war from elements of the Birmingham Squadrons, which is why it is probably shown as coming under No 5 BC. The place Rowkeath for 915 Sqn really confused me, I couldn't find it anywhere. In fact it was the Bourneville Lido at ROWHEATH! No 31 (Barrage Balloon) Group controlled all the Balloon Centres in Liverpool and Derby as well as Birmingham. It was based at Forhill House near Hopwood, not far from RAF Wythall. In November 1941 following reorganisation in Balloon Command, 31 (BB) Group disbanded and the Birmingham Squadrons came under 32 (BB) Group. Forhill House was a pretty impressive mansion, so I was not surprised to find out that 914 Sqn took it over as their Squadron HQ. Still standing, it has just been converted into private flats, so I could not get a photo of it.
The list of the Squadrons you found was compiled by Len Bacon from Hull. He has researched No 17 Balloon Centre in Hull, and the 2 Balloon Squadrons based there. My project is a bit grander, with 2 Balloon Centres, & 7 Squadrons. As I no longer live in Birmingham, I would just like to say how much I appreciate all the help you are providing.
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
cromwell. Nice picture of the mobile site. To date I have not come across any reference in the Squadron records to such a set up. There is reference to a mobile unit being formed from elements of the Birmingham Squadrons, but that got sent to East Anglia, and like the reference to the 'Rover site', I got the impression it was a normal balloon set up which was just packed up and moved around. One of the Squadrons does talk about a 'Rover site', but it just seemed to move to normal static sites. I will investigate further. Thanks for the prompt.
 

pudsey

gone but not forgotten
The name of Forhill House,came up in some research I did regarding Borstal Institutes,By the location it must be the same one


Colin
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
Colin B. That's correct. After the war I believe it was handed over by the Trustees of the House (which I believe was the Bourneville Trust) for use as Borstal Institute. It is relatively isolated, and had its own estate, so I asume was suitable. Not so sure if the Company that did the conversion into the apartments mentioned that fact in the sales brochure. You wouldn't by chance have a photograph of the house would you?
 

johnedward

master brummie
HI PHIL,
MY MOM WAS WAS IN THE WAAF ON THE BALLONS SHE IS NO LONGER WITH US BUT I AM SURE I HAVE SOME PHOTOGRAPHS AT HOME UP I THE ATTIC . IF I CAN FIND THEM I WILL SCAN THEM IN WORK BUT I WILL NEED SOMEONE TO TELL ME HOW TO DOWNLOAD THEM FOR YOU TO SEE. THE PICTURE IF I CAN FIND IT SHOWS A UNIT OF WAAF'S. MY MOM WAS A CORPORAL AND SHE USED TO TELL ME A STORY OF HOW SHE LOST A BALLON OR SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN A SARGEANT. HER NAME WAS GERTRUDE ( TRUDY ) WHITEHOUSE AND SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN AROUND 22/23 YRS OF AGE AT THE TIME OF THE WAR.
JOHN
 

pudsey

gone but not forgotten
Phil, I came across the name but was un-able to find out any more detail other than it was located in Lea End Lane.
All I can find out today with a quick Google search is references to the recent building work.I'll add it to my list and see if I can find out anything more


Colin
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
johnedward. Thanks for that. Was your mother based in Birmingham during the war? The reason I ask is that my research is specific to the Birmingham Squadrons. I don't have my notes to hand at the moment, but the WAAFs started to take over the sites sometime in 1942. There is the possibility she trained at Sutton Coldfield or Wythall. Do you know you can apply to the RAF for her record of service if you don't already have it?
Being on balloons for the WAAFs was physically very demanding, and the living conditions were very basic. At 23 years of age, your Mum might have been one of the oldest on her balloon site! As a Corporal she would have been in charge of the site.
I have just as much admiration for those young ladies as I have for the men of Birmingham who answered the call to form the Squadrons in the first place.
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
Colin B.  Thanks for checking.  Having a photograph is a nicety.  I've got my wartime details of the House for the project and my main priority now is locating the balloon sites in Birmingham.
     I may have some more details about the House becoming a Borstal Institution if that is of interest.
   Let me know & I'll e-mail them separately.
 
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Rod

Guest
Youve probably seen these or have copies I found them on the net when looking for Civil Defence Links
 
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O.C.

Guest
Womens Auxiliary Air Force learning about the Barrage Balloon
 

sylviasayers

master brummie
Phil, just a snippet from an article in this month's "Brummagem" magazine- "Another night we came out of the house to find the sky ablaze with flames; we were frightened to death. It seems one of the barrage balloons in Handsworth Park had come adrift and burst into flames".
 

GEFF

Geff
PHILL, THE BALLOON IN BELCHERS LANE WOULD HAVE COME DOWN IN THE SUMMER OF 42 WHEN I WAS SWEET 16, YES THERE WERE HUTS ON THE SITE AND THE GIRLS LIVED THERE. I ALSO RECALL A SITE IN WARD END PARK. GEFF
 
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Phil Bonner

Guest
I'm in touch with the grandson of one of the founder members of 911 Squadron. Jack Robertson lived at 30 Stoneyhurst Road Erdington, and was believed to be involved with a firm of signmakers based in Kingstanding. Jack had served in the Royal Engineers during WWI and was 46 when he signed up in mid 1939.
His grandson has sent me a photo of Jack standing in a bomb crater, which I believe was at a 911 balloon site.
 
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