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                      The Very First Women's Auxiliary Air Force Balloon Barrage Operators

                This is an historic image of the first female Balloon Operators trained at R.A.F. Cardington in July 1941.

                            Centre is Wing-Commander Harold Featherstone Luck with Section Officer D. M. Ware (307). These women were determined to

                           show the Top Brass of the Royal Air Force that women could handle balloons, winches and armament. The Top Brass were very

                           dismissive of the concept of female balloon operators. It was one of the most interesting changes in the war, and released thousands

                           of men for service in other branches of the air force. It also struck a huge blow for female equality and served to begin an awareness

                           of wider society that women were very versatile and adaptable when they needed to. Post-war society had to rethink those industries

                           and occupations that were previously the domain of men. Even so the Top Brass viewed these women as "sensitive creatures" for whom

                           those in charge of their training had to ensure and emphasise that balloon defences were potentially lethal to German aircrew

                           and each female had to confirm, sometimes in writing, that they were happy to be the deliverer of deadly force to the German aircrew!

                            I do not think any of these would have given it a second thought. A total of 1029 barrage balloon sites were being run by W.A.A.F.'s. making

                             up around just under 50% of the personnel of Balloon Command. 





                               Below: Womens Auxiliary Air Force Officers' School

                  ADMINISTRATION "B" COURSE   "A' FLIGHT  27th May 1942 to 30th June 1942


                                   Below: Some of the W.A.F.F.s' signed the back of the picture.


                                   Below: Womens Auxiliary Air Force "A" Course 29th March 1944 to 23rd April 1944

                   R.A.F. Bowness, Windermere


                                        Many of them signed the back of the photograps


                                           This is a picture of W.A.A.F.'s at an unknown United Services Association Hotel































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