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Balloon Squadrons Play Cricket During the War
Normally we would be hearing the sound of leather on willow at cricket matches across the country through the summer. During the war
cricket was played regularly and some of the Balloon Squadrons found themselves at or near to superb cricket grounds.
In May 1940 the BBC Team, captained by the famous radio commentator Michael Standing played against a London Balloon Barrage Team,
captained by Squadron-Leader J.C.W. MacBryan at Lordís. Across the country balloon squadrons tuned in to the radio to listen to the match.
The result was Balloon Barrage 197 runs versus the BBC with 161 runs.
Later in mid-August 1940 there was a "Beer-Beer" Cricket match final for No.2 Balloon Centre featuring No 903 and No. 904 Squadrons. No. 903
won easily dismissing 904 for 66 runs and making 203 runs for 7 wickets. Notable contributions to the demise of No. 904 were made by
Pilot-Officer Rye (5 for 16), Aircraftman Dyer (4 for 25). The trophy was presented by Group Captain. E. J. Davis of 903 Squadron. Among the
top brass spectators was Air Commodore Guilfoyle who was in charge of the London Balloon Barrage.
In August 1940, much interest was had in a celebrated cricket match between the 1st Battalion Scots. Guards and No. 903 Balloon Barrage
Squadron at Lordís. There were several well-known County cricketers on the field. The guards lost when No.903 Squadron declared at 309
runs for 3 wickets after an opening stand of 193 between Corporal Gregory (Surrey&England) and Leading Aircraftman Ardley (Lomdon Club),
later each of them took three wickets. When the Guards were playing an Air Raid was sounded and this robbed them of the best part of an
hour of batting time and was the first recorded case of "Raid Stops Play! When stumps were drawn their score was 188 for 9. B.D. Carris
(Cambridge Blue) scored 93 and with G. Pike put on 127 for the second wicket.
Air raids were worked into the rules somehow as being an element that meant that when
you ran off to take cover from an air raid the batting side sacrificed batting time! Lordís
suffered during the Blitz in 1940 when a barrage balloon broke free and drifted across the
ground the cable snagging the famous Father Time weathervane and bringing it crashing to
the ground. It was missing from view until 1946 when the weathervane was restored back
to the original position.
Many balloon crews played impromptu cricket matches on balloon sites across the land. It
was a sport that attracted much attention with crews often asking for donations of cricket
Peter Garwood August 2020
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