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                                         No. 980 Balloon Barrage Squadron Moves from Abadan to Egypt


On the 24th April 1943 No. 980 Balloon Barrage Squadron had been at Abadan refinery for almost 12 months and was given orders 

to pack up and get readied to move to Port Said.

The men of the squadron had made many friends with the locals and many locals had been employed to do things like washing for the men of the


On the 7th  May all M.T. (Motor Transport) Sections left for the Transit Camp at Habbaniya.

On the 8th May the men worked hard packing stores and loading them onto the barge.

On the 12th May all the balloon kit was taken. Because of the heat and the tides the men were ordered to parade at 4.45 a.m. in full marching

 order. At 4.45 a.m. they paraded then marched to the Jetty where they got on a barge and were taken out to the paddle steamer. They moved

 off about 7 a.m. and they docked at Khorramshahr for the night. 

On the 13th May they spent the night as comfortably as they could on the "old tub". At 6 a.m. they started upriver for Basrah. They arrived there at

 10 a.m. and had breakfast at 10.30 a.m. They then entrained at Basrah. About noon they left Basrah for Baghdad. They were on the train all day

 and many men slept on the floor.

On the 14th May they arrived in Baghdad about 6 p.m. and waited a while for transport to take them to Habbaniyah but the Commanding Officer

 came up before they had left and told them that there was a change of plan and they had to go to the Transit Camp Baghdad. They went there

 and waited until noon until they found the men some tents. 

On the 15th May they left Baghdad at 10 a.m. in convoy for Habbaniyah and arrived there at 2 p.m. 




The men settled in and some went for a swim in Lake Habbaniyah”.

On the 16th May many men were up at 6 a.m. and went for a swim in Lake Habbaniyah. They were at the Transit Camp for a rest”.

The next two days were easy and restful with the men watching Flying Boats land on the Lake with mail.

On the 18th May the men had their F. F. I. (Free From Infection) medical examination and were told they would be leaving on the next day. 

There was a long awaited Pay Parade.

On the 19th May the men were delayed and told that they would definitely be leaving on 29th May. They were told to  parade at 5.45 a.m. and

be ready to  leave at 6 a.m.

On 20th May the men had all their kit packed and were ready at 5.30 a.m. They got on the lorries and were told to make themselves comfortable

 as this would be their home for 5 or 6 days. The convoy consisted of eighty lorries. As they travelled some ended up overtaking the slower ones.

 Some were achieving 25 miles and hour others up to 40 miles per hour. They travelled all day and stopped for half an hour for Tiffin and then

 carried on until about 3.30 p.m. when they stopped for the night at Waddi Mohdi, a staging post, out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but

 desolate country as far as the eye could see. The sun had made the sands hard and sun-baked but the men made their beds on it and slept until

 5.a.m. They had breakfast at 5.30 a.m. and they left at 6 a.m. on the 21st”.

As  the second day passed they stopped for Tiffin as usual. There was nothing to see all day and so the men played cards the best they could

in the back of the wagons. That night, they filled up with petrol from jerry cans and stopped at Putbah, a staging post for the night.

On the 22nd May they set off again for the third day. There was nothing to see as usual. It was like being in the middle of the ocean. They finally 

crossed the Trans-Jordanian that night and stopped at H.4, a staging post, just inside the border for the night.

On the 23rd May they travelled through the Trans-Jordan desolate country full of rocks. It looked like Iraq, and as far as you can see desolate

countryside. The flat terrain began to show some distant hills. They stopped at Mafraq, a staging post. Despite the desolation each night a guard 

was posted and the men shivered with the cold. The guard duty put on every stitch of clothing including a blanket around their shoulders.

On the 24th May the men were up at 4 a.m. and they left at 5 a.m. It was hoped to finish the journey that 5th day. They began driving up into

the hills now, with nothing but big rocks at the side of the road. They planned to stop at 9 a.m. for breakfast, but just before breakfast they

came into something they could hardly believe. Yesterday the countryside had been a mass of rocks, but now it was green and gold with grass and

wheat. With the dew on it on the plant life it smelt lovely. After breakfast they started off again and were delighted to see the Jordan Valley.

They continued climbing uphill for some time and then they descended with the men relishing the sight and smell of agriculture. 

As they went down one part of the road they could see the front of the convoy going along the road about 1,000 feet below. 

After a long day they arrived at R.A.F. Gaza, Palestine at 8.p.m. that night.

On the 25th May the men were told to be on parade this morning at 10 a.m. to be ready to move at 2 p.m. At 2 p.m. they were taken to the station

 and left Gaza at 6 p.m. They entrained and spent all night on the train, and they got off the train at 9 a.m. the next morning. They were at

 Kasfareet, Egypt. The Squadron had been split into a road party and a train party. The road party arrived at 11.45 a.m. and the train party at 8.30

 a.m., they had arrived at No.21 Personnel Transit Camp, Kasfareet. From 26th-27th May they remained at the camp before being sent to new 







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