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        2031348 Leading Aircraftwoman Eleanor J. Bostock (Nee Howard)

              16th February 1923 - 3rd January 2020


    It is with great sadness we report on the passing of one of our members.   

   Eleanor was born in Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, growing up there with her parents

   and two sisters. 

   She left school aged 14 and commenced work as a trainee florist but when war broke out,

   she started working for a Government Ministry. In 1942, aged 19, she volunteered for the

   W.A.A.F., in her words, “to help defend England against Hitler and the threat of being overrun

   by Germany and to keep this country free”. Eleanor began her career at R.A.F Bridgnorth

  on 1st June 1942. She left there on 10th July 1942 and went to R.A.F. Cardington was trained

  as a Balloon operator and posted to No.906 Squadron, C Flight, in London on 25th September 1942.




      Eleanor was based at various sites across the country, including Ladbroke Grove, Swiss Cottage and Regents Park, where

      she had a couple of near misses from regular Nazi attacks on London.. 

      On one occasion, a V1 rocket fell close to her hut, damaging the roof and knocking her out of her bunk as it

      detonated a nearby balloon. 

      She also saw tragedy when on Wednesday 6th October 1943, at 20.01 hours, a Transport Squadron plane, of

      No. 512 Squadron came to grief. It was a friendly Dakota III, DC3 FD899, No.9621 on a training exercise flying

      in hazy weather conditions and it flew into the cables from two balloons on sites 6/45 and 6/22, severing the

      balloon cables and causing both balloons to break away. The cables severed part of the plane, and it crashed

      into the Bernhard Baron Cricket Pavilion, Regent's Park, killing all nine on board.


       Eleanor served through some of the most difficult times in 906 Squadron, the Squadron was literally

      a target for the flying bombs.

      Since they could be heard coming over they were called "buzz bombs" as well as doodle bugs. When

      the noise from their engines stopped they ran out of fuel and would dive down onto the ground, as a

      consequence they were always referred to as "Divers" by balloon operators.

      Here are official notes from the War Diary revealing that the Squadron was continuously under attack

      after D-day.

      On 19th June 1944, D-day had taken place almost two weeks previously and Germany was sending over

      the Doodlebugs or V1  revenge flying bomb to London.

      At 23.50 hours five separate V1's landed at Balloon sites 6/36, 6/33, 6/31, 6/30, 6/28 but no serious

      damage was reported.

      On 21st June 1944 at 15.00 hours two V1's landed near Balloon sites , one south-east of site 6/33 and

      north of site 6/40. There were no reports of injuries to personnel or damage to R.A.F. property.

      On 22nd June 1944 the decision was made to deflate all the balloons on sites 6/1, 6/2, 6/3, 6/5, 6/6, 6/9,

      6/11, 6/12, 6/13, 6/15, 6/16, 6/18, 6/19, 6/20, 6/21, 6/22, 6/24, 6/25, 6/26, 6/28, 6/29, 6/30, 6/31, 6/32,

      6/33, 6/34, 6/35, 6/36, 6/37, 6/40, 6/41, 6/42, 6/43, 6/44, 6/45,6/46, 6/8, 6/49, and 6/50.

     This was because the balloons were needed further east to help defend the skies against waves of V1 attacks.

      On 24th June 1944, site 6/3 reported V1 crashed south of site, site 6/39 reported V1 crashed north of site,

      site 6/38 reported V1 crashed north of site and 6/32 reported V1 crashed west of site.

      The blast caused slight damage to R.A.F. buildings but no personnel were injured. On 29th June 1944 a V1

      blast broke windows in recreation room and site 6/36 reported V1 crashed at back of Kenwood Terrace

      Flight "E" Headquarters reported that a skylight and radiator were damaged and on site 6/47 all windows in

      the billett were broken.

      On 5th July 1944 site 6/12 reported V1 crashed at 17.00 hours and 17.50 hours causing severe damage to a

      house but no R.A.F. casualties.

      On 9th July 1944 at 02.25 site 6/22 reported V1 crashed damaging a nissen hut and the doors and windows

      on a Air Ministry hut. Shrapnel damaged a balloon and caused it to burst into flames.

      On 12th July 1944 sites 6/24 and sites 6/40 reported a V1 had damaged doors, windows and ceilings in a hut.

      No personnel were injured.

      On 18th July 1944 site 6/26 reported window damage from V1 blast and balloon damaged by shrapnel.

      On 21st July 1944 site 6/21 reported V1 blast had broken windows of hut but no casualties to personnel.

      On 26th July 1944 site 6/47 reported V1 blast had blown window frame out.

      On 28th July 1944 "C" flight reported that their Headquarters had a V1 blast that damaged windows and ceilings.

      On 1st August 1944 it was reported that "D" Flight Headquarters had minor damage from a V1 blast.

      On 2nd August 1944 site 6/37, a vacated site was hit by a V1 and suffered minor damage, it was thought to

      be the heaviest raid to date.

      On 9th August 1944, No.906 Squadron was amalgamated with Nos. 907/8 Squadron and Nos. 909/910

      Squadron all being renamed as Nos. 906/910 Squadron.

      On 11th August 1944, at 14.30 hours, "A" Flight No.906/910 Squadron reported V1 blast from V1 some

     70 yards from Angus Lodge, damaging the Mess and Officers Mess but no casualties.

     On 16th August 1944 at 21.11 hours, a V1 blast damaged windows on site B/26 damaging windows but not

     injuring personnel.

     On 20th August at 11.45 hours a V1 crashed in Kensington Gardens, damaging the Station Headquarters

     damaging ceilings and windows but no personnel were injured.

     On 22nd August 1944 at 04.25 hours a v1 crashed damaging windows to "A" Flight Headquarters with

     no personnel casualties.

     At 12.42 hours site A/18, A/20, and A/13 had a V1 blast cause damage to the site but there were no

     injuries to personnel.

     Throughout August the majority of officers were posted out to other Squadrons.

     On 29th August at 17.45 hours site A/27 and site A/45 had a V1 blast damage to windows.

     At this stage there were only 609 W.A.A.F.'S in the Squadron.

     On 23rd September 1944 at 11.55 hours a message was received requesting London to be non-operational

     with immediate effect and by 19.32 hours all balloons were deflated and packed away.

     Officers and W.A.A.F. continued to be posted out. with only 463 W.A.A.F.'S  left in the Squadron.

     On the 10th of October site A/35 reported blast damaged from a flying bomb which wrecked a Nissen hut.

     On 26th October the London Barrage was completely shut down. Eleanor and her comrades were incredibly

     lucky not to suffer any injuries or deaths due to V1 flying bombs. It must have been terrifying each and every day


     Eleanor was, rightly, very proud of her war service and post-war was pleased to join both the W.A.A.F. Association

     and the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club, attending several events, but unfortunately, not meeting any of her

    actual old comrades from Balloon Command.

    More recently, in November 2015, she was honoured to attend the unveiling and dedication of the Memorial to  

    Balloon Command at The National Memorial Arboretum.


Eleanor at the Aboretum in November 2015 proudly wearing her medals for service in the Second World War



      She served on these sites:


    Site 6/21 Regent's park, Camden Town End until 5th October 1942

    Site 6/28 Swiss Cottage to 10th November 1942

    Site 6/21 Regent's Park to 15th January 1943

    Site 6/25 Ladbrooke Road to 15th February 1943

    Site 6/21 Regent's Park to 7th July 1944

    Site 6/22 Regent's Park (Baker Street end) to 21st October 1944

    She was remustered on 22nd October 1944 as Balloon Command in London was shut down.

    On 16th May 1946 with the war over, she was finally demobbed and returned to a civilian life  .


    Eleanor married her husband, Christopher Bostock, in the 1st Quarter of 1948 at Surrey

    and moved to Luton, where she lived for the remainder of her life.  She had 4 children,

    8 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren and was very proud of her loving family.  

    She loved music and spent many happy hours playing her favourite pieces on the piano. 


    She was also a football fan, supporting the Kingstonians and for many years was a season

    ticket holder at Luton Town.

    Eleanor was one of the Balloon Operating women who defended our skies from Nazi attack and

    for whom history rarely mentions their vital contribution to the war effort.

    It is to individuals like Eleanor that we must give thanks for their sacrifices during 1939-1945

    to ensure we could live in a world free from tyranny.

    We will always remember them.



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