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LAC GEORGE (Judd) BIRCHALL
Judd was born on 8 February 1906 and brought up in the Kirkdale area of Liverpool. He was part of a large family
and lived in Woodhouse Street then Thomaston Street, not far from the world famous Scotland Road. He probably
attended Major Lester School and would have started his working life aged 14.
The family home in Thomaston Streetwas a big old house with a kitchen in the cellar where the family spent most of their time.
If someone called at the front door, they could be seen from the kitchen. To save the family going up to open the door, they
had a handle with a rope attached to it, so when they wanted to let the person in, they just turned the handle and the front door
Judd went to work as a Flour Packer at Bibbys when he left school. He wasn’t very happy working there and in 1925,
aged just 19, he decided to leave and travel to Canada with his elder brother Edward and Edward’s family. They landed
at Quebec but didn’t stay there. The whole group “walked across the bridge” into America seeking work. Judd worked
in a car factory in Detroit but didn’t really like the Americans. He found them to be quite loud with too much to say.
Nevertheless, Judd stayed in America for 3 years and then travelled home to see his family. He was home for just 9
months before setting sail again to Canada in 1929. He worked as an auto worker for another 3 years and finally
returned back to England in 1932 aged 26. On his return from America, Judd lived with his brother Arthur and sister
May in a small house in Golden Grove, Liverpool. He always wanted to have his own business, and was able to buy a sweets
and tobacconists shop on Walton Breck Road, close to Anfield football ground. Judd worked hard to build the business
up even though there was a lot of competition on the road. Family members would regularly call in for a newspaper and
sweets for their children.
By 1939 World War II was underway and Judd joined up on 13 September 1940. His religion was Church of England
and he was described as 5 feet 8 inches tall with a 35 inch chest and brown hair with hazel eyes and a fresh complexion.
His next of kin was his brother Arthur Birchall and in the event of any casualty occurrence his step-sister Miss M.E. Duffey
was to be
Balloon Crew posing for a photograph..the sergeant looks formidable. George is 2nd from left front row.
He began his war at No.3 Receiving Centre, Padgate, and from there was sent to No.17 Balloon Centre on 20 September 1940.
After his initial training he was to be posted on 16 December 1940 to 921 Squadron, Fazakerley, Liverpool, flying around 48
balloons under control of No.8 Balloon Centre. He was ranked AC2 (Aircraftman 2nd Class. His character was ranked as
Very Good at the end of 1941 at the annual appraisal. His trade on 28 December 1940 was Balloon Rigger, Fabric Worker,
Balloon Operator. His ability was classed as U/T (under training). He was then sent to No.8 Balloon Centre on the 6th April 1941
and then back to 921 Squadron on the 22 August 1941. At the end of 1941 he was ranked AC1 (Aircraftman 1st Class, awarded
1 May 1941), his character was ranked Very Good and his trade was Balloon Fabric Worker, Balloon Operator, his ability was
ranked still at u/t (under training). He was next posted to 905 Squadron on 24 June 1942 and to the combined 904/5 Squadron
on 1 August 1942, defending Clapham and Kensington with 45 balloons each.
Balloon crew off duty: George with 3 unknown servicemen
At the end of 1942 he was ranked AC1 (Aircraftman 1st Class), his character was ranked Very Good and his trade was Balloon
Fabric Worker, Balloon Operator, his ability was ranked still at satisfactory.
Balloon Crew wearing leather jerkins. George with unknown friends
He was then posted to No.12 Balloon Centre on 15 April 1943 No.12 Balloon Centre, Fareham, Hampshire. and then on to No1
Balloon Training Unit (A) on 22 July 1943. He was then sent back to No.12 Balloon Centre and then back to No.1 Balloon
Training Unit at Cardington on the 9 August 1943.
Balloon crew member (unknown) Seems to like the casual look!
He was then posted to 950 Squadron A Flight flying 32 balloons at Lyness, Orkney on 7 October 1943 and then to No1
Balloon Training Unit on 8 October 1943 and then back to 950 Squadron. His trade on 25 February 1943 was Balloon
Rigger/ Fabric Worker. At the end of 1943 he was ranked LAC (Leading Aircraftman awarded 28 September 1943 as he
had achieved 85% in his re-mustering examination ), his character was ranked Very Good and his trade was Hydrogen supply,
his ability was ranked still at satisfactory.
George with friends pose for a group photograph
He stayed there until 14 July 1944 at which time D-day had come and gone and he was sent to 950 Squadron as a care and
maintenance party (C. & M. Party.). He was then sent to Cardington on 17 October 1944 and joined 159 Wing Rear Party on
12 November 1944. At the end of 1944 he was ranked LAC (Leading Aircraftman), his character was ranked Very Good and
his trade was Hydrogen supply, his ability was ranked still at satisfactory. 159 Balloon Wing was sent abroad to give air
defence to the allied troops through France and Belgium.
On 18 June 1945 the war in Europe was over and he was posted to Balloon Training Depot at Cardington. On the 6 July 1945
he was transferred to the Balloon Development Unit at Cardington. Presumably he was offered the chance to continue to work
in balloon development, testing and trials as he was quite an experienced hand by this stage. He obviously wanted to leave the
forces and he was then sent to 94 Maintenance Unit on 8 August 1945, which appears to have had a number of diverse locations
and from there to 101 Personnel Dispersal Unit at Kirkham for release into civilian life.
He was released on 7 October 1945 and probably went on leave. On 9 December 1945 he was discharged to Grade "G" Reserve,
after 5 years of service and having attained the age of 45 years. During his career he only forfeited one day due to unauthorised
absence between 12.00 hours on 10 January 1943 until 20.00 hours that day. Such absences were often due to travel logistics
failing and missing train connections. The usual punishment was to forfeit a days pay for such misdemeanors.
He was awarded the British Defence and War Medal and as he served in an operational area between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945,
he was also awarded the France and Germany Star.
In June 1945 by special licence Judd married Jessie Cooper at Christ Church Bootle and their wedding reception was held in
the function room at Coopers Café, Church Street, Liverpool.
George and Jessie on their wedding day
They started married life living in the flat above their shop.
Judd and Jessie both worked in the shop at different times as did Judd’s sister May and Jessie’s sister Gladys.
In 1949 their first daughter Margaret was born, Michael came along 3 years later and then Diane in 1956. Margaret
remembers her dad bringing sweets and comics home for her from the shop and when she got a bit older she
occasionally went to the wholesalers with him to order stationary.
Balloon days over George and Jessie probably snapped by a street photographer of the day
When Margaret was four they moved to a family home at Walton Hall Avenue, very close to where Judd had lived with his brother
and sisters before the war.
Judd’s health had not been good for some time, he had chronic bronchitis and when the children were quite young he contracted
Tuberculosis and was admitted to the pavillion at Walton Hospital. He did recover from this and continued to run the shop.
The family didn’t have a car, not many families did at that time, which meant Judd taking the bus to the shop every day. The
hours he worked were very long, as they sold newspapers which meant early mornings and late evenings. This began to take
its toll on Judd and his health deteriorated. Returning from the shop in the evening, when he got off the bus, he would have to
stop several times to get his breath before he arrived home.
Sadly, in1963, after being ill at home and nursed by Jessie, he was again admitted to Walton Hospital. His condition deteriorated
and after a short time Judd passed away aged just 56 years leaving a widow and three young children.
If anyone can identify anyone in these pictures or can add to the story please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org