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The Unveiling and Dedication of the Memorial to Balloon Command

at The National Memorial Aboretum 24th November 2015

Former veterans of Balloon Command and their families gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in

Alrewas to unveil and dedicate a Memorial to all those who served in Balloon Command.

After many years of preparation and collecting funds by many members of the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club,

 the BBRC Memorial was finally officially unveiled and dedicated at the ceremony in the National Memorial

Arboretum in Alrewas, Wiltshire on a cold Tuesday of the 24th November 2015.

As many members will recall, the original design for our Memorial was shown in the Christmas 2012 issue of

 the BBRC Newsletter after a long debate among members.

This design was subsequently modified to fit in with the changing requirements set by the Royal British Legion,

 owners of the National Memorial Arboretum.

Mr. Nick Johnson of ‘Young Johnson Limited’, a local specialist monumental masonry firm from Wiltshire was

 chosen to produce the actual Memorial, suggesting a particular type of blue/grey granite with engraved

 lettering picked-out in gold. His proposal was agreed by members at the BBRC AGM-2014.

Yet another long debate ensued concerning the precise wording of the Memorial plaque and the two descriptive

 panels. The final agreed version was again shown to the members in the Spring 2015 issue of the BBRC Newsletter.

So, after so many years, the Memorial was finally being produced and the official unveiling was planned for the

autumn of 2015.

Sadly, we lost our Hon President Mrs. Phyllis Wood, suddenly in September 2015 after a short illness,  and so what

 would have been her crowning achievement as our President had to be scheduled without her.

The day chosen after consultations with the National Memorial Arboretum was Tuesday the 24th November,

which gave us some leeway following the Remembrance Sunday celebrations. All members received an invitation

 to the unveiling ceremony in the post, together with suggested transport, hotel arrangements and an offer to help

 with any travel costs. About fifteen BBRC members decided to attend, most with family members or friends.

    An un-official “Memorial sub-committee”, led by Jeff Clack ( Member #392 ), together with Peter Garwood ( #335 ),

Marion Haill ( #24 ) and Martin Postranecky ( #260 ), set about organising the actual unveiling ceremony with the help

 of the National Memorial Arboretum ( NMA ) staff. The ‘Order of Service’ had to be decided upon, suitable readings

and hymns chosen, the needs of padre/bugler/standard-bearer/organist etc. decided upon.

It is still amazing to me that by Monday 23rd November, when we met with the NMA staff on site, all these various

 pieces had come together and we were actually almost ready to proceed – apart from the weather !

Finally, the morning of Tuesday 24th dawned. We ‘set-up our BBRC stall’ – literally so, as the NMA provided us with

 a suitable table in the Visitor Centre to ‘meet and greet’ arriving members. Marion Haill and Lyn Clack were ready

 to welcome arrivals and give them the printed ‘Order of Service’ and a lunch voucher to use following the unveiling.

I am glad to report that about 30 expected visitors arrived on time – apart from poor ‘Molly’ Russell ( Member #103 )

and her friend Peggy, who were delayed by a train failure and didn’t arrive until after the ceremony.

Most of the members and visitors were ferried to Memorial site by a buggy, and we were all ready to start, when,

 just before 12 o’clock noon, the clouds magically parted and the sun came out ! We were all entertained by a NMA

organist with suitable music while waiting for the service.

The actual service was introduced by our Hon. Secretary Peter Garwood, who described the history of the Balloon

Command and the Balloon Barrage in the Second World War, and the story of the BBRC since the end of the war.

We were then welcomed by our padre, the Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood –incidentally he was himself in the RAF

during his National Service – who then carried out the Service with great gentleness, sensitivity and humour.

He was helped by readings by Peter Garwood and Marion Haill.

The BBRC Memorial was unveiled by Mrs. Josie Wood, daughter-in-law of our late Hon. President Phyllis Wood,

who graciously agreed to perform the ceremony in the memory of Phyll. The Memorial was then dedicated to

‘All Who Served in the Balloon Command’.

Three wreaths were then laid at the Memorial, two by Judith Smith ( Member #409 ) and Patricia Yates  ( Member #439 )

 on behalf of the BBRC, and one by Keith Guyll ( Member #447 ) on behalf of his late mother Sergeant Dora Guyll.


The Act of Remembrance followed, read by BBRC Hon. Secretary Peter Garwood, with the ‘Last Post’ and the

 ‘Reveille’ sounded by the Bugler.

Mr. David Frances from the Tamworth Branch of the Royal Air Force Association acted as the Standard-Bearer

during the ceremony.

The unveiling and dedication ceremony ended with a Royal Air Force Collect, singing of the National Anthem and

with the Blessing.

Members and guests were then able to gather around the Memorial and spend some time contemplating the Memorial,

 thinking of absent friends and relatives, talking to each other and enjoying the unexpected sunshine.

Following the ceremony, all members and guests retired to the nearby Pavilion restaurant for refreshments arranged by

 the NMA for the BBRC, to warm up and relax in each other’s company.

We also had the pleasure of the company of our Padre Tony Wood, of the NMA organist and of the members of the

Tamworth RAFA Branch including Thomas Phillips and the Standard-Bearer David Frances.

We then welcomed our member ‘Molly’ Russell, who arrived after the ceremony with her friend Peggy – just in time to

 partake in the refreshments. Molly was given a special tour of the BBRC Memorial and of the surrounding monuments in

 her own ‘private’ buggy, courtesy of the NMA volunteers.

It only remains to say that we were treated extremely well by all the volunteers and staff of the NMA, who could not

have been more helpful. The local NMA Event Co-ordinator Emma Cropper deserves special thanks for all her help and efforts.

Finally, for those of you who may wish to visit the BBRC Memorial at the NMA, it is located close to the main RAFA Memorial

( ‘The Eagle’ ) in the “RAF Wood” area of the Arboretum.



Marion Haill and Mrs Clack of the Barrage Balloon Reunion Club wait to meet and greet invited members and

guests to the unveiling and dedication of the Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial Arboretum.


David Frances of the Royal Air Force Association acts as Standard Bearer for the ceremony

to unveil and dedicate the Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial Arboretum

in Alrewas

The Bugler of the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas and Standard Bearer David Frances of

the Royal Air Force Association listen to Peter Garwood, Hon. Sec of the BBRC, speaking to the

attendees before they began to unveil and dedicate the Memorial  to Balloon Command

Marion Haill of the BBRC gives a reading from John: 14.1.6.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many

rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and

 prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be

 also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

No one comes to the Father except through me.

Josie Wood, daughter-in-law of the late Phyllis Wood, who was President of the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club,

 unveils the Memorial assisted by Mr Jeffrey Clack at the ceremony.

Watching the ceremony to unveil and dedicate the Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial

Arboretum in Alrewas are Betty Tyson and Judith Smith, widow and daughter of Fred Tyson RAF who served in

985 and 986 Squadrons overseas in WWII

After the unveiling the Service of Dedication of the Memorial to Balloon Command  is led by the

 Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood



Pictured laying a wreath is Patricia Yates, daughter of 1062656 Albert Eddie Yates, 976 Balloon Squadron.

Albert was part of Force "S", 3rd Division, 51st Beach Landing Unit, First Wave, First Tide, at Sword Beach

on D-Day and then went on to Antwerp


                Keith Guyll lays a wreath for his late mother Sergeant Dora ( Barney ) Guyll at the ceremony for the

 Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.

Dora Guyll was featured in the BBC One Show about Women and Balloon Squadrons




  David Frances of the Royal Air Force Association acts as Standard Bearer for the ceremony.

Here he is lowering the Standard during the ceremony.


The Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood conducts the dedication service

Three wreaths were laid at the ceremony


Two wreaths were provided by the members of the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club and one from

 Club member Keith Guyll on behalf of his late mother Sergeant Dora Guyll

Eleanor Bostock served in 906 Squadron  "C"  Flight, London , during World War Two.

She was on balloon sites in Regents Park , Swiss Cottage and Ladbroke Park

                                      Eleanor Bostock admires the Balloon Command Memorial

                                     Eleanor Bostock wears her World War Two medals with pride.

2017049 Leading Aircraftwoman Mary ( “Molly” ) Russell served in Balloon Command from 1941-1946.

Served on balloon sites at Solihull, Wythall, and Digby Park , Smallheath.

Molly travelled for 7 hours to reach the memorial service at the Arboretum

Linda Garwood who designed the illustrative plaque on top of the Balloon Command Memorial

The illustrative plaque on top of the Balloon Command Memorial

The Memorial was crafted by Nick Johnson, stonemason from “Young Johnson Limited” of Westbury.

The Memorial has a description of the work of Balloon Command on the east side detailing the numbers of service people

and balloons during the war

The Memorial has a description of the work of Balloon Command on the west side detailing the manner in which balloons

were deployed to be able to defend the skies over this country during the war.