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Freak Accident with Barrage Balloon Causes Car to Take Off!

 One of the most freakish of wartime accidents occurred at Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, on 24th November 1941 in the afternoon. 

 Supplies of electricity were cut off in four districts for over half-an-hour in Ballydare, Carrickfergus, Greenisland, and Whitehead, 

 because of  the mishap, while there was also interference with telephone communications in the district. All this was caused when

 the cable of an escaped barrage balloon was dragged a considerable distance across the countryside.

 A motorcar, driven by Mr Jack Grange, aged 26, publican, The Square, Ballyclare, who was accompanied by his mother, Mrs. Rebecca 

 Grange, and his sister, Miss Rebecca Grange. We were motoring to Ballydare from Larne about five o'clock," said Mr. Grange, "when

 I noticed a balloon drifting overhead. I did not pay much attention at the time. Then some time afterwards I noticed the cable 

 coming along the middle of the road, and it suddenly struck me that it belonged to a balloon that had broken loose”.

"It was about ten yards away at the time, and I knew I would have to act quickly. I jammed on the brakes, opened the door and pushed

 my sister, who was sitting beside me. on to the roadway. I turned round and helped my mother out of the back seat, and ' then tumbled 

 out myself. We were just out in the nick of time, for no sooner had we left the car than the cable hit the radiator. There was a crunching 

 sound. The cable became entwined round the front bumper and axle, and the car was whirled round on the road. It was dashed up against

 a hedge on one side and then against a stone wall on the other side. We had two dogs in the car, and one of them, which we were unable 

 to bring out with us, was still in the car. Then, after the car had gone a good distance, we saw it jumping on to the road. When the car had

 been dragged about eighty yards one of the rarest things I have ever seen happened. It sailed into the air as if it had taken wings! It had not

 gone very far when it was dashed against a tree and became stuck on the branches. A large crowd gathered in a few minutes. The police, 

 Mr. Gordon, and Mr. Jim Agnew, Ballyclare, brought ropes and tied the car more securely to the tree. later several soldiers then arrived, 

 and the order to shoot the balloon down was given. The balloon was punctured with one shot and fell slowly to the ground. The car was 

 lowered to the ground by the military. It was not too badly damaged." "It was an awful experience," was how Mrs. Grange described the

 incident. "Now that it is all over, we can laugh at the whole thing, but I don't remember ever being so frightened as I was when I saw

 that cable coming towards us!”                                                                                                 

Peter Garwood 2021

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