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History of No. 924 Balloon Barrage Squadron (East Lancashire) June 1940 to December 1942
Having survived their war in France No.924 Barrage Balloon Squadron took five days leave to recover from their ordeal. Many were expecting that they would be
back in Manchester taking over balloon sites from No. 925 Barrage Balloon Squadron. However, the slogan “Defend The Walls of Manchester” meant nothing to the
planning the Air Defence of Great Britain! With one day of leave left a signal
was sent for No. 924 Barrage Balloon Squadron to prepare for a move!
20th May 16.30 hours a rear party of men from No. 924 Barrage Balloon Squadron had arrived at Cardington. Flight Lieutenant Phillips. Pilot Officer Bradshaw, Pilot
Officer Hawkins, Squadron Leader Reverend Reuss with 248 other ranks. They were accommodated in tentage vacated by No.912 Squadron. There was a pay parade
partial re-kitting and then all had five days leave.
09.40 hours Men left Cardington for Bedford Station and then Manchester.
hours Men of the first leave party returned from Manchester and were
accommodated in the tentage.
19.00 hours The Commanding Officer returned from leave and the adjutant
proceeded on leave.
Re-kitting was completed, and re-equipping began over 24th and 25th
09.00 hours Flight
Lieutenant Palmer and one other rank proceed to No.12 Balloon Centre to select
hours Signal received about Squadron movement.
hours and 15.20 hours A signal was received ordering the Squadron to move to
16.00 hours The Commanding Officer proceed by road to No.32 Group under orders to go to Portsmouth. When he arrived, he found the Group had moved to
The Commanding Officer left for Romsey and then to Titchfield to see No. 12
hours The Commanding Officer arrived back at Cardington.
11.30 hours The Advance Party left by road under Pilot Officer
Neill with Pilot Officer Collins, Pilot Officer Butters, seventeen other ranks
and four Fordsons.
hours Signal received re Squadron move to Eastleigh, Hampshire.
hours the convoy left under Flight Lieutenant Marshall for Hook, en route for
Eastleigh, with Flight Lieutenant Phillips, Pilot Officer Scott and 68 other
hours The Commanding Officer left in a Staff Car for Titchfield to report to
No.12 Balloon Centre.
29th 08.30 hours Rail Party, under Flight Lieutenant Dehn, left Cardington Station with Flight Lieutenant Pye-Smith, Flight Lieutenant Roff (Medical Officer), Pilot
Taylor, Pilot Officer Ballard, Pilot Officer Aldridge, Pilot Officer de Gruchy
and 387 other ranks.
hours Arrived Eastleigh Station.
hours Titchfield Party under Pilot Officer Ballard with Pilot Officer de Gruchy
and 73 other ranks left Eastleigh for Fareham (Station for Titchfield).
14.10 hours Flights were immediately employed on their sites at Eastleigh, Bitterne and West End. Most sites were in the country around the aerodrome and around
perimeter of the landing field.
“DW” remembered seeing aircraft landing at R.N.A.S. Raven which was used as a forwarding aerodrome for Naval Seafire aircraft. He also saw Hudsons arrive from
Atlantic crossing with additional fuel tanks attached. He also saw Airacobra
aircraft come and go.
“DW” indicated that initially they were given Bell tents and the balloons were flown from temporary beds. Later “Works” and “Bricks” arrived and constructed
permanent circular beds with a central anchorage with the winch picketed down. Wooden huts were built with the novelty of piped water. Initial feeding of crews
was with hay boxes delivered by van from Central Headquarters. Later the sites were given bicycles with carrier baskets and were expected to cycle to a central
collection point to collect food in hay boxes. Many cyclists had crashes and soon the number of bent bicycles made this mode of feeding crews impossible. The next
option was to have an annex extension to the hut kitted out with a large iron stove with a hot water boiler. “DW” said that they then received dry rations and
their own food. “DW” was appreciative of “Works” and “Bricks”
building blast shelters that could hold six men. The balloon crew dug their own
22.00 hours the first balloon was inflated and flown to operational height. Digging of Air Raid trenches began. Seven more balloons were flown at Operational
Orders were that balloons were to be
flown at 21.50 hours and hauled down by 06.30 hours.
Twenty balloons flying on sites 1 to 24.
Throughout July there was much routine work flying the balloons with a considerable number of balloons suffering damage with a few balloons breaking away.
air raid warnings were given but no enemy aircraft were sighted.
routine flying took place.
13th 15.40 hours A 40-minute air battle took place in the clouds above the balloon sites. Three aircraft were shot down in the vicinity. Bombs were heard dropping
14th 16.45 hours Enemy aircraft overhead. A bomb was dropped between “C” 13 and 14 sites, near to the railway line and south-west of the factory. It is evident
that local aerodromes were not fully aware or were not ensuring pilots flying into and out of their air spaces were informed of the presence of the new barrage
03.30 hours A Whitley bomber, P5044, struck the cable of site 7 at 4,000 feet
and crashed. It caught fire and the crew were killed.
The Whitley had been on a mission to Bordeaux and was flying back to RAF Driffield in Yorkshire. The Botley Observer Corps Log recorded what was described as
sound plotted UNKNOWN".
It was observed by the Botley Post near Fareham, Hampshire, flying West toward Southampton Water, then turning to fly North-west up Southampton Water, over
Southampton and crashing to the East of the Royal Naval Air Station Eastleigh (H.M.S. Raven) at Allington Lane, West End. The Winchester Centre Log confirms this
plane was losing height. All this suggests the aircraft was in distress before
hitting the balloon cable. The crew were all from No. 77 Squadron:
Flying Officer William Alan Stenhouse, age 26, Captain
41856 Pilot Officer Robert Butler Macgregor, age 19, 2nd Pilot
746840 Sergeant Claude Lionel Geoffrey Hood, age 31, Air Observer
551597 Sergeant John Burrow, Wireless Operator
632374 Sergeant Harold Davies, age 20, Rear Gunner
that day another aircraft hit a cable.
17.27 hours A Lockheed Hudson took off from airport and hit the cable of site 23 as it was being paid out to operational height. Aircraft crashed into houses and
all the crew and two occupants.
Hudson T9320 from 1 O.T.U. R.A.F. Siloth, Cumbria was sat waiting to take off from RAF Eastleigh, Hampshire on the afternoon of the 15th of August 1940. The
plane with 9 on board 8 of whom RAF and one civilian from the Sperry Company, was to fly back to Siloth via RAF Northolt and return with crew who had been
another aircraft to Eastleigh.
The pilot, talking with a civilian and the Air Watch Officer was told that it was not advisable to leave as an air raid was expected and a ‘Yellow’ state of warning
in effect, the pilot anxious to get away before the raid started decided to go
and the Hudson taxied out.
Lifting off the pilot climbed the Hudson to 700ft but tragically ahead the 924th Balloon Squadron had just finished raising the barrage balloons to their operational
height . T9320 struck one of the cables which severely damaged the plane and falling almost immediately, the Hudson impacted No 199 and 197 Nutbeem Road,
Eastleigh destroying both houses and the plane. All on board were lost and sadly a large part of the plane fell onto No. 195 Nutbeem Road, this took the lives of the
occupants Thomas Craig, age 57 and his wife Ellen Craig, age 55.
Hudson was flown by 29237 Squadron Leader William Coulson, age 37. The crew
were all from No.1 (C) O.T.U.
901973 Sergeant John Barlow, age 19, Wireless Operator.
Sergeant Douglas Borthwick Cowie, age 19, Wireless operator.
41261 Pilot Officer Albert Percival Davis, age 24.
637289 Sergeant Arthur Martin Froud, age 18.
39530 Flying Officer Roy Holle Immelman, age 24.
951883 Aircraftman Second Class Alexander Taylor
40871 Pilot Officer Bernard Whittle and civilian John Scott Whitaker, age 23, , civilian (Sperry Ltd).
Even today there is much debate as to who was to blame for the accident. Some claim the pilot took off with an imminent air raid others claim the balloon barrage
was let up
without proper authority.
funerals of the No.1 O.T.U. Hudson T9320 and Whitley P5044 were paid for by
three R.A.F. Stations, R.A.F. Boscombe Down, R.A.F. Driffield and R.A.F. Silloth.
hours Enemy air raid and six Southampton balloons were shot down. The balloon
crews saw three enemy aircraft shot down.
With the Battle of Britain now an everyday occurrence “DW” was briefed on the potential German invasion that was feared. Instructions were given that no man
was to leave his site. If invaded there was to be no relief for two weeks until the army had decided which German invasion area was the main thrust. Crews were
given a air-cooled Lewis Gun from the Great War, reserve food and water rations, extra ammunition and a box of hand grenades. Prisoners were not to be taken and
“DW” was told they had to fire on any troops moving towards them from the coast, even if wearing British uniform as it might be a German in disguise. They were
told that units to the North had similar instructions which gave all and sundry a good reason to stay put. “DW” remembers that they were made to stand in full
equipment for three successive days and when finally stood down his feet felt
twice the size!
16th 13.43 hours Much aerial combat above the balloon sites. A Hurricane was shot down in West Kightingale Wood three miles West of Squadron Headquarters. The
13.02 hours A balloon from site 15 exploded at 4,000 feet when
paying out. No obvious explanation.
A number of Portsmouth or Gosport balloons were shot down.
A bomb was dropped about five miles north of Eastleigh.
A salvo of bombs dropped on Titchfield main road near site 12. Three fighters
seen pursuing it and was losing height and emitting smoke.
hours A balloon broke away with two hundred feet of cable. Enemy aircraft
dropped bombs over Southampton and as seen crashing into the sea.
17.33 hours A single aircraft dropped two salvos of eight bombs to the East of the airport 400 yards from the factory. No damage and no casualties. The Squadron
machine gun opened fire on it.
hours Balloon with shrapnel holes on site 5.
hours Balloon on site 5 broke away.
hours Red and green Verey lights seen west of site 15.
00.01 hours Balloon on site 11 broke away with 1800 feet of cable
which cut off telephone line.
Single enemy bomber at 4,000 feet. Heavy Anti-aircraft fire.
25th 11.00 hours Squadron Leader Barnes left squadron on posting to command No. 906 Barrage Balloon Squadron. Squadron Leader Dehn taking over command.
26th 03.13 hours “C” Flight reported that a friendly aircraft had crashed after hitting cable of site 15. On coming down a bomb may have exploded, and the aircraft
fire. Three dead.
This was a
Blenheim IV bomber, L8870, of No.101 Squadron. The crew were.
745574 Sergeant John Hawes Balmer, age 29.
Sergeant William John Cheshire Corker, age 28.
Sergeant Thomas George James Cranston, age 22.
They had taken off 01.53 hours from West Raynham. On return crashed 04.50 hours after colliding with a barrage balloon cable 1 mile SE of Eastleigh Hampshire. It
not known why the times of collision differ between the various records.
hours “C” Flight reported that three bombs dropped near their Headquarters.
hours “B” Flight reported gun post hit by bomb south-east of aerodrome.
29th 14.30 hours A friendly aircraft hit cable on site 13 and then landed at Royal Naval Air Station. The cable had damaged the Air Screw and the starboard fairing.
had a lucky escape.
to 31st Much
22.34 hours Three bombs dropped in Eastleigh. Four civilians
Two of these were – Charles Frederick Gray, age 61, of 221 Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh and his wife Ellen Louisa Gray, age 69. Both died at 221 Chamberlayne
New staggered formation of barrage started.
03.55 hours Oil incendiary bomb on site 16. No damage.
01.25 hours A night-time anti-aircraft barrage was put up for the first time.
11th 16.15 hours Some 30 bombs dropped damaging Cunliffe Owen works new extension, aerodrome, and site 8. No R.A.F. casualties. Civilian casualties. Squadron
Officer rendered valuable services and squadron ambulance was first on the
06.30 hours Severe gales caused 12 balloons to break
away and damaged two others.
18th Ten balloons for reinflation but due to hydrogen shortage the squadron used a mix of coal gas and hydrogen. 40% of coal gas (7200 cubic feet) equivalent to 12
of High Pressure cylinders and inflation completed with 16 bottles of hydrogen.
Balloon rose to 4160 feet.
to 26th There was much enemy bomber activity and bombing.
27th 03.00 hours A balloon from site 22 was holed by shrapnel and then as it descended it became entangled in a cable from a balloon of site 21. When daylight
balloons were untangled.
Considerable damage during the month to balloons from shell splinters.
“DW” remembered that American Lease-Lend had begun and his trusty calibre 0.303 Lee-Enfield was spirited away to be replaced by an 0.300 calibre American P.5
They were only 5 shot magazines and were very different to the rifles they were
8th 18.43 hours three enemy aircraft dived on the town and tried a new tactic of diving down with engines off onto the town and dropping bombs as well as
machine gunning streets, gun sites and balloon crews. The balloons were close hauled to allow landings and take-offs at the aerodrome. “DW” saw and heard three
aircraft coming down to the aerodrome in line with wheels down as if they were coming into land. He thought they must be Blenheims. As they reached the
they retracted their wheels and began machine gunning the hangars and began
dropping bombs. They were in fact Junkers 88’s.
They dropped bombs on site 6 and this resulted in two airmen being killed instantly and one dying two days later. Five other men were injured. Airmen of site 8 had
to dig out the buried airmen from the shelter trench into which they had jumped. They had to dig through the demolished Anderson shelters and evacuating the
injured. All this being done while there were three unexploded bombs on the site one of which was buried in the shelter trench. There had been no warning of this
and the only defensive action was from a Hispano gun manned by factory
balloon crew who died were.
542846 Leading Aircraftman Stanley Blaylock, age 21, a single man of 155 Colne Road, Burnley, Lancashire. He had been a plumber in civilian life. He was buried at
Haggate Baptist Chapelyard, Lancashire. In
1948 a white marble tablet was unveiled at Heponstall Methodist Chapel dedicated
to his memory.
Aircraftman 1st Class Garfield Maurice Pring, age 25, a single man
who had lived at 7 Omer Drive, Levenshulme, Manchester.
1260370 Aircraftman 2nd Class Frederick Henry Greening, age 27, a single man, was fatally wounded and died at Royal South Hants hospital, Southampton two days
on 10th October. Greening had been a Head Wool Trimmer and was also
in the Auxiliary Fire Brigade in civilian life.
and Pring were buried alongside each other at North Stoneham (St. Nicholas)
Operations Record Book, somewhat surprisingly, does not record the names of the
11thand 12th In view of the clear risk of friendly aircraft colliding with balloon cables a new staggered formation of balloons was drawn up. Considering the various
directions of take-off and landing for local aircraft a system of six lanes was created. This meant that there was a means of clearing the air spaces of balloon cables
notified of take-off and landings.
11.32 hours A British bomber somehow managed to fly between sites 1 and 3 with
09.09 hours Unidentified aircraft at 200 feet altitude narrowly missed cable on
17.20 hours A flying boat flew through barrage missing cables on sites 1 and 5.
Aircraft hit cable on site 3 when flying at an altitude of 200 feet. Aircraft
did not come down.
15.38 hours Three bombs dropped about three miles west of Squadron Headquarters.
hours Blenheim bomber flew through barrage narrowly missing cables and later
came down in Southampton.
Site 6 reported finding an unexploded bomb in bushes fifty yards from site. It
was evident that this was dropped on the 8th October attack.
13.20 hours Severe gales and rain. One balloon broke away and yhree others had
to be inflated.
14.35 hours An Avro Anson flew through barrage between cables of site 1 and 3
and landed at the aerodrome.
5th It was evident that the “safe lanes” system was not working as expected. It was at this point that a device known as a “Squeaker “ was introduced. It emitted a
signal that could be detected by all friendly aircraft and indicated that this was an area of balloon flying. Only when balloons were close-hauled would the Squeaker
be turned off.
Balloons were now flying at start of control period unless R.N.A.S. have views
to the contrary.
20.00 hours Warning given of major bombing attack.
01.59 hours Site 9 reported on large formation of enemy aircraft.
21.08 hours Sites 18 and 25 reported
three bombs dropped near Savoy Cinema, Swaythling.
“C” Flight Headquarters reports of Carbide incendiaries being dropped around
“C” Flight Reported incendiary fires put out. A five-hour attack with bombs
being dropped on and next to sites.
Large High Explosive bomb exploded 300 to 400 yards from site 7.
hours Land mine exploded beyond site 2 by Fairoak Road., Bishopstoke.
02.11 hours Site 24 balloon and cable came down at Bishopstoke. All cleared by
hours Unexploded bomb in Vickers workshop went through roof and six to eight
feet in concrete floor, R.N.A.S. Bomb Disposal Unit dealing with it.
12.26 hours “C” Flight reported aircraft flying through barrage and
landed at aerodrome.
“B” Flight report bomb on Eastleigh aerodrome just outside “B” Flight
hours Bombing attack began. A variety of delayed action and normal bombs dropped
on aerodrome and balloon sites.
11.06 hours Site 15 reported bombs on Hatch Farm near Quob Lane.
hours Site 7 reports delayed action bomb on Monke’s Path 100 yards from site.
hours Site 8 reports slight crater 2 feet across.
hours Site 3 reports delayed action bomb 250 yards from site.
hours Southampton Gas Company request cease using coal gas as 50 pipes damaged.
Flights not to use coal gas until further orders.
11.44 hours Heavy bombing attack at 18.15 hours preceded by parachute flares. Many incendiary bombs dropped near Squadron headquarters. Fire in North
Church. Site 17 reported site covered in many incendiaries, but all extinguished
by 19.15 hours.
“DW” remembers that the balloon crews did some basic warming up as exercise but with time the crews were certainly not “battle fit”. Every now and then 20 to
30 airmen were drawn off their sites and sent to do a week of field work at an Army Training Camp near the New Forest. The Army Instructors could not believe
luck at having a bunch of “Brylcream Boys” at their mercy.
They were marched and marched until they were ready to drop.
Air raid began and lasted past midnight.
1st Air raid ended 02.00 hours. Restarted at 18.15 hours. “DW” remembered hearing enemy aircraft overhead and a whistling noise as bombs descended and then it
was as if a “switch had been thrown” as straight lines of parallel rows of lights appeared in the fields and this was due to hundreds of incendiary bombs being
dropped. He noted that the public began to take the air raids seriously and at night many would leave the town to sleep in the fields and then return in the morning
find whatever was left of their homes or workplaces.
Raid ended 00.45 hours. Many high explosive and incendiary bombs dropped. Damage
to Squadron water and telephone supplies. Two delayed action bombs on aerodrome.
3rd Numerous delayed action bombs exploding in area. Telephone again damaged. 17.05 hours aircraft heard taking off from aerodrome and flew through barrage
No telephones working.
Telephone communications repaired.
Electricity supplies cut off.
“B” Flight headquarters
transferred from R.N.A.S. aerodrome to St. Agnes, Bishopstoke.
Delayed action bombs in Allington Lane exploded
by Royal Engineers.
Low temperatures causing balloons to fail to get to operational height of 4,500
feet and at 21.20 hours all balloons hauled down to 1500 feet.
28th 18.00 hours a single enemy aircraft flew over barrage at 6,000 to 7,000 feet. Local anti-aircraft fire was too late and inaccurate, bombs dropped on
December 1940 the following were Gazetted as being Mentioned in Despatches by
the Air Officers Commander -in-Chief.
Pilot Officer E.W. Collins A.A.F
Corporal F. Ashcroft
Corporal C. J. Cuthbert A.A.F.
Since large scale air raids began there have been a number of instances of good work by officers and airmen of No. 32 Group. The following names have been
brought to notice.
Aircraftman First Class Dillon
Aircraftman First Class W. Horne
A number of bombs fell upon a baloon site seriously injuring and burying airmen in an Anderson Shelter. These two airmen hurried over from another site, dug out
of the buried airmen, placed them on the winch platform and rove them to another
site. They returned and released the other airmen.
A considerable number of unexploded bombs were in the vicinty and one was protruding only three yards from the Anderson Shelter. A fact which the above airmen
ORDER OF THE DAY
The undermentioned airmen of No.924 Squadron are commended for the good work that they have carried out on the occasion of an accident to an aircraft at
on 5th March 1941.
Leading Aircraftman A. Beswick.
Aircraftman First Class R. S. Cobbledick.
Aircraftman Second Class T.W. Mayou.
Aircraftman Second Class J. Hesketh.
Aircraftman First Class F. R. Taylor.
was announced that 90875 Wing Commander William Theodore
Barnes had been awarded the Order of the British Empire (Military) in the
New Year’s Honours List.
2nd to 3rd The Squadron has several balloon casualties due to shrapnel. “DW” explained that when the crew noticed the cable had begun to make a 45-degree angle
they knew that meant that shrapnel had punctured the balloon. This meant an immediate and rapid haul down and temporary bedding while a crew member had to
climb the 30-foot stepladder in the dark and try to find the punctured hole. Then they would try and seal it with balloon fabric. All this done with hydrogen
escaping through the hole and trying to locate the hole in the light of fires from incendiaries, reflected searchlights while red hot shrapnel came down around the
The risk of explosion was always high.
Severe ice forming on rigging and flying cables.
Friendly aircraft flew through barrage without incident.
Severe ice formation of over one inch was on all sites. Flying at Maximum
Operating height was introduced.
19th 19.00 hours Enemy attacked Southampton and District with flares, incendiaries and high explosive bombs were dropped. Bombs fell on Southern Railway Works
Eastleigh. Five ambulance men at the
Railway Works were killed by the bombs. They were.
Leslie Eric Gaiger, age 34 years old,
First Aid Party member, of 56 Kipling
Road. Husband of Nora Kathleen Gaiger.
Alfred John Godfrey, age 37 years old, First Aid Party member. Son of William John Godfrey, of 46 Hamilton Road, Bishopstoke; husband of Ida May Godfrey, of 2
George Wilfred Henbest, age 30 years old,
First Aid Party member. Son of William
Charles and Martha Sophia Henbest, of 67 High Street.
Reginald Edgar Gillingham, age 44 years old, Air Raid Warden; First Aid Party member. Son of J. Gillingham, of 3 Hillside Close, Chandler's Ford; husband of Ethel
Gillingham, of 31 Ruskin Road.
Francis Edward Ball, age 28 years old, First Aid Party member. From 59 Spring Lane, Bishopstoke. Son of Oliver and Elizabeth Ball, of 49 Peel Road, Wolverton,
Bletchley, Buckinghamshire; husband of Pattie
hours He111 crashed half a mile from site 5 which was
between Allington Lane and
Horton Heath and parts of the wings came down near site 15. Balloon fabric was near to the crash site but as no local barrage reported a collision the kill credit was
to anti-aircraft fire. It is possible that the aircraft hit a breakaway balloon,
but no proof was forthcoming.
hours Air Officer Commanding arrived at Squadron and went to site 6 to see
hours Raid ended with no damage to R.A.F. property or personnel. The raid was
not as s ever as the December ones.
20th Squadron Ambulance removed bodies of four German airmen from crashed plane. The body of one man who had bailed out was found near the fuselage. Taken
West End mortuary. A partly burnt-out stick of incendiaries was found near site
five Germans were eventually buried as a crew at Cannock Chase German Cemetery.
Lenning, Plot 4 Row 10 Grave 129,
Schubert, Plot 4 Row 10 Grave 130,
Janson, Plot 4 Row 10 Grave 131,
Kroiss, Plot 4 Row 10 Grave 132.
I have not been able to identify the fifth German.
22nd 15.05 hours three aircraft approached R.N.A.S. at between 200 and 300 feet and one of them, a Fairey Fulmar struck and severed a cable of site 6 and made a
pancake landing in a nearby field half a mile east of site 6. The pilot was unhurt.
24th The five German aircraft were buried by personnel at No.12 Balloon Centre at 1805 at South Stoneham Cemetery. Several officers of No.924 Squadron
10th An aircraft took off from R.N.A.S Rave and narowly missed the cable on site 24.
11.59 hours Two Tomahawk aircraft came into land and narrowly missed the cable
on site 7.
hours A Lockheed Hudson took off and narroely missed the cables of the barrge.
19.09 hours Air raid commenced, and a bomb was dropped 25 yards
from the hut on site 25.
5th 12.12 hours A Westland Lysander hit the cable on site 24. The wing was severed and fell in Eastleigh Railway Station. The plane crashed and burnt out in the
Yard near to the station. Two crew were killed.
43545 Pilot Officer Basil Aubrey Ronald Deall, No.26 Squadron R.A.F., age 22 years old. Son of Ronald Edward Gustave and Iris Geraldine May Deall, of Tooting,
husband of Edith Mary Deall, of Tooting.
Sergeant Patrick George Durham, No.26 Squadron R.A.F., age 30 years old. Son
of John and Sarah Durham, of Napton; husband of Mary Durham, of Napton.
Avro Anson flew over barrage and landed safely at aerodrome.
21.19 hours Incendiaries dropped on Chandler’s Ford
Incendiaries dropped on Peacefield Avenue and Derby Road, Eastleigh.
04.00 hours Balloon cable damaged chimney in Chestnut Avenue.
21.56 hours Bomb dropped near site 19. No damage to R.A.F. personnel. One airman from No.924 Squadron Operations Room sent to Cunliffe Owen Aircraft control
to relay plots to Barrage Control at Southampton.
20.35 hours Bomb dropped between site 7 and 14-no explosion.
hours Bomb dropped on Stoneham Golf Links.
11.38 hours Blenheim bomber flew through sites 23 and 24.Landed safely on field
adjoining aerodrome and site 24. No damage.
hours Two Spitfires and a Fulmar took off and flew between sites 23 and 24.
hours Several unexploded bombs dropped between site 24 and aerodrome.
hours .Incendiaries in Thornhill area.
hours Incendiaries Northwest of Eastleigh.
hours Four bombs dropped and exploded near site 15, Quob Lane Anti-aircraft
battery. A bomb exploded near site 4.
hours Bomb in Mansbridge area.
01.45 hours Flashing lights seen on Aerodrome Proved to be Sergeant major moving
hours Bombs dropped East of Aerodrome. No damage.
17.22 hours Fairey Fulmar missed cable on site 25 by 20 yards, landed safely at
15.59 hours Hawker Osprey K.6790, narrowly missed cable on site 19.
hours A Walrus attempted landing and was given two red Verey lights by
aerodrome, so it flew off.
A plane came out of the mist and flew through barrage at 300 feet but landed
hours Four bombs dropped at Totton.
hours Possible hostile aircraft passed over barrage in cloud.
hours Squeaker warning system tested
hours Fire at Pirelli’s Eastleigh.
hours Fire extinguished.
18.11 hours Hostile Plane at 100 feet over barrage chased by two friendly planes
17.09 hours A Seaplane flew over below barrage height.
09.25 hours Low flying aircraft overhead.
Crews stood ready to fire on hostile aircraft flying below 1,000 feet.
hours Warning to crews about low-flying
21.30 hours Aircraft justa bove barrage
flew over area. Squeakers operational. Balloon adrift trailing cable. Avro Anson
hit cable on site 30.
April Incendiaries dropped on Chandler’s Ford.
01.05 hours Site 11 and 15 reported
hours Plane landed on Lane B at aerodrome,
a second attempted to land but flew away.
hours Sites 22 and 17 reported Spitfire at
700 feet missing cable on site 22, and 9.
01.33 hours Site 25 reported plane flying
toward Southampton well below barrage height.
03.00 hours Bombs dropped on site 9 and 12
09.40 hours Avro Anson, piloted by Captain
Wickner from Hamble flew through barrage sites 15 and 3 at 150 feet. Landed
safely at Aerodrome.
13.26 hours Albacore N4389, Pilot Thompson
flew nears sites 23 and 24 at 1,000 feet.
10.45 hours Defence positions manned for
low flying aircraft.
04.00 hours Plane hit cable on site 15 at
2,000 feet. Flew on undamaged, balloon broke away and fell near No.12 Balloon
hours Crews to look out for enemy airmen.
Four baled out and one man captured.
hours All enemy airmen now captured.
hours Four High Explosive bombs dropped near site
hours sites 6,7 and 8 reported fire east
hours all incendiaries extinguished.
hours Four High Explosive bomb craters
near site 9. Nearest crater was 100 yards away.
hours Unusual hole like a well shaft found
300 yards from site 9. Thought to be landmine.
sent for Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal unit. Area evacuated.
hours Bomber flew through barrage near
Bomb exploded near site 9. No damage.
23rd Tomahawk aircraft flying below barrage height narrowly missed cable on site 17 by 10-15 feet, followed by a second plane a few minutes later. These were AH
flown by Air Transport Auxiliary Officer Annibal and A.H. 794 flown by
Air Transport Auxiliary Officer Cragg.
12.48 hours Hudson N.7220 took off and flew between site 1 and 2. Piot was
Squadron Leader Stewart of the Gunnery Research Unit, Howley, Exeter.
Possible Hurricane flew near site 16 at 2,000 feet.
1st May 01.03 hours Whitley Bomber flying around at 3,000 feet in distress. All balloons hauled down and this took until 01.47 hours However plane flew off and
17.55 hours Balloon struck by lightning,
09.50 hours Ice formation on
balloons at 3,000 feet.
02.27 hours Enemy plane shot down off
14th 15.29 hours Blenheim flew through barrage between sites 17 and 18. Later passed site 20. Plane returned and flew back through sites 17 and 20, at 200 feet.
at aerodrome and overran runway. Blenheim No.3528 piloted by Sergeant Chandler.
09.55 hours Plane flew through barrage of
sites 19 and 20. R.N.A.S. had no idea who or what the plane was.
11.27 hours Westland Lysander No. T1455 flew between sites 6 and 7 at 1,500 feet. Landed safely at 11.30 hours.R.N.A.S. said that Pilot Officer Goodchild No.614
had “lost his way”. The plane took off from Lane B.
20th 14.48 hours Spitfire flew through barrage of site 25 by about 5 yards and missed cable of site 5 by 50 yards. Plane turned around and flew towards Portsmouth.
had no idea about the plane.
hours Leopard Moth AX865 piloted by Wing
Commander Crummy from Boscombe Down flew through barrage Pilot had lost his way.
15.19 hours R.N.A.S. reported Lysander flew through barrage and landed on
hours Machine guns manned as hostile aircraft in area.
hours Machine guns stood down.
May 00.17 hours Sites manned enemy aircraft in area.
11.34 hours Two Spitfires, W3264 flown by Mr Wedgewood and W3265 flown by Mr Quill took off from aerodrome. Flew through barrage between sites 1 and 2 at
11th 11.41 hours Spitfire flew through barrage over site 1 at 1500 feet, landed on aerodrome 100 yards from the cable of site 4. R.N.A.S. had no knowledge of a
but had an Albacore take off instead with Test Pilot Mr Wilson.
11.25 hours Blenheim flew through barrage area between site 5 and 2, at 3,000
Swordfish landed at aerodrome after flying through barrage between sites 1, 23
and 24. R.N.A.S. deny any knowledge of the plane.
25th 19.12 hours Avro Anson flew through barrage between sites 1, and 24. Landed at aerodrome, R.N.A.S. reported that this was followed by six Spitfires. The
pilots were picked up by the Avro Anson and took off.
01.11 hours Two landmines dropped at Doncaster Grove, near the Bofors Site
between Squadron Headquarters and airport.
5th 11.43 hours Lockheed Hudson flew through barrage between cables of site 6 and 8, within 100 feet of the cable. Landed on aerodrome. Piloted by A.R. Holmes
hours Between sites 23 and 21 a parachute was found and it contained three valve
01.15 hours Attack on Southampton. Bomb dropped on site 5 and two other bombs
feel in nearby field. Damaged telephone lines.
hours It was reported that two enemy planes shot down, later only one confirmed
“kill” was agreed.
11.01 hours Albacore flew through barrage over site 25 at 1,000 feet.
hours Blenheim flew through barrage between sites 25 and 5 at 1,000 feet.
hours second Albacore flew through the cables of sites 25 and 5 at 300 feet. Did
08.03 hours Plane flew through barrage between sites 1 and 24.
hours Tomtit piloted by Mr Quill of Vickers Armstrong took off and flew between
cables of sites 1 and 24 at 700 feet.
03.40 hours Balloon struck by lightning.
10.14 hours Swordfish or Albacore flew through barrage between sites 5 and 25,
landed at aerodrome.
hours Plane flew through barrage at 1,000 feet.
hours Plane took off and flew through barrage between sites 1 and 24, at 1,000
hours Plane flew through barrage between sites 1 and 24, along railway lines.
12.22 hours Perimeter sites came into operation
14.58 hours Swordfish took off and flew through barrage between sites 25 and 5.
09.30 hours Breakaway balloon at 400 feet at Upper Owlesbury, cable caught in
15.21 hours to 15.26 hours three balloons struck by lightning.
8th 17.35 hours “De Havilland” Dragon piloted by Mr Quill of Vickers Armstrong flew through barrage between cables on sites 9, 15 and 16, at 1,000 feet and landed
15.40 hours Lockheed Hudson took off and missed cable of site 24 by 100 feet.
18.29 hours Breakaway balloon over Southampton at 7,000 feet.
11.45 hours Lysander piloted by Squadron leader Eyres, circled inside the
barrage before landing at aerodrome narrowly missing cable on site 17.
11.29 hours Plane flew low flew through barrage between sites 3 and 4, at 300
16.12 hours Ten Albino Sites were supplied with mobile winches as opposed to
4th 20.50 hours Hawker Tomtit piloted by Flight Lieutenant Barclay flew through barrage between sites 5 and 25, narrowly missing cable of site 5. Landed at
11.00 hours Albino practice inflations took place.
10.37 hours Tomahawk flew through barrage cables between sites 19 and 20, at 300
hours Spitfire Pilot Mr Pickering of Vickers Armstrong took off before his lane
was properly opened.
hours Second Spitfire pilot, Mr Wedgwood took off luckily neither of these
aircraft came near cables.
08.30 hours A hurricane dived down out of the clouds and came within fifty feet
of the ground missing the cable on site 10 by 100 feet.
hours Blenheim flew through barrage cables between sites 24 and 23.
21.55 hours Enemy activity. Bombs dropped on Southampton and Portsmouth. No
18.33 hours A Falcon flown by Flight Lieutenant Barclay flew through barrage
cables between sites 5 and 3, at 150 feet and then landed at aerodrome.
22.55 hours Balloon broke away and was found at Stockbridge, Wiltshire.
17.33 hours A Spitfire approached from Portsmouth at 500 feet made a circle 200
yards from cable on site 25 and then flew back toward Portsmouth.
12.20 hours Unknown Spitfire flew through barrage cables of sites 2, at 1000
feet missed cable by feet and then landed at aerodrome.
09.58 hours Two unknown Blenheims flew through barrage cables between sites 25,
10, 15 and 3, at 1500 feet, narrowly missing cable by feet. Flew off.
15th 17.53 hours A Falcon monoplane took off and was flown by Mr Quill of Vickers Armstrong flew through barrage cables between sites 23, 4, 24, and 1, at 500
15.37 hours A Tomahawk flown by Flight Lieutenant Pellott of No.241 Squadron,
Bottisham flew at 100 feet directly over a balloon as it was being let up.
18th 09.31 hours A Falcon monoplane flown by Mr Quill of Vickers Armstrong, who seemed to have more lives than the proverbial cat, flew through barrage missing
of sites 4 by 500 feet and landed at aerodrome.
09.22 hours Balloon broke away.
09.05 hours A Hawker Tomtit piloted by Mr Quill flew through barrage at 150
feet, missing cable of site 4 by 200 yards.
17.55 hours A Hampden Bomber flew through barrage cables between sites 17, 21,
4, and 5, at 3000 feet, narrowly missing cable of site 25.
It would appear that a new diarist was brought in to keep the Operations Record Book as there had not been much detail in the Record Book over the last few
months. It is interesting to note that mentions of near misses with cables were now not mentioned. I was told by “DW” this was because it was felt that these close
were a bad reflection on the airmen in the air and on the ground.
to 31st Much routine balloon flying took place. With no particular
the month a number of sites went on to begin onsite cooking. Hut annexes were
being extended to accommodate a cooking area.
Between 29th to 30th a Group Trade Test Board was held in the Parish Hall, Stoneham Lane, Nort Stoneham. Sites 8, 10, 17, 21, 22 all commenced Light Machine
1st to 31st
much routine balloon flying took place.
1st to 28th much routine balloon flying took place.
1st to 31st much
routine balloon flying took place.
1st to 30th much routine balloon flying took place.
to 31st much routine balloon flying took place.
1st to 30th much routine balloon flying took place.
the month there was a raid on Southampton and a near miss by a bomb caused
damage to the Headquarters and demolished the huts on site 14, 16 and 4.
Sergeant E. Welsh was Mentioned in Dispatches.
July 2nd 00.01 hours No.924 Squadron was amalgamated with No.930 Squadron under the command of Wing Commander H. W. Hall, M.C., The Squadron then moved
this point another diarist was brought in and had no typewriter.
Record Book recorded much routine balloon flying.
23.57 hours The A.R.P. reported that
up to this point the city of Southampton had issued 1034 Air Raid alerts since
the war had begun.
1st 22.52 hours 30 Group gave the “Albino” stand by order. Each Squadron was to report the first and last balloon release when all were ready for release. The
barrage was to remain at present flying height and to take operational precedence over Albino. The Albino was an attempt to seed the skies with small balloons
carrying explosive charges that would be carried by the wind into the path of enemy bombers. The concept was to have a free-flowing number of aerial mines in
the airspace through which the enemy bombers would travel. It had somewhat dubious results before being abandoned. There was much routine flying but very
interaction with the enemy.
Squadron Leader Botham proceeded to British Broadcasting Centre , London to take
part in “Ack-Ack Beer-Beer”.
was much routine flying of balloons during the month.
10.35 hours A Liberator flew over the barrage at 1500 feet but did not
strike a cable.
The Squadron Band took part in an episode of “Ack-Ack Beer-Beer”.
Leader Botham assisted in the production of a Broadcast from Southampton -
“Ack-Ack Beer-Beer” program.
Squadron Leader Bradshaw visited the Squadron with two
representatives from the United States Army for Balloon Handling demonstration.
15.35 hours Two Hurricanes flew through barrage between 500 and 1,000 feet.
7th 14.18 hours Site 14 reported a Campor Swift aeroplane had landed in a nearby field after flying from France. The pilot was a French civilian and was unhurt, but
the aircraft was damaged. He had taken off from Normandy at 11.20 hours and was looking for an airfield when he saw the balloons and landed. He was held under
Close Arrest until Wing Commander Hall arrived who escorted the pilot to Station Headquarters. At 17.45 he was handed over to Major St. George, Field Security
11.35 hours A black twin-engine bomber flew over the barrage.
What was obvious was that during the last 12 months of 1942 the incidence of enemy attacks over the balloon barrage was much reduced. This may have been due
to the enemy being more aware of the area protected by the barrage or may be due to a reduction in raids in that particular target area. The number of
by friendly aircraft was less but this was probably under-reported.
Copyright Peter Garwood 2023
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