Author Topic: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites  (Read 29382 times)

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Offline Kathy Taylor

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Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« on: 03 April, 2010, 01:55:44 PM »
I need some help to establish where the barrage balloon and anti-aircraft gun sites were in East Ham and West Ham and I am hoping that some of you may be able to remember.

BALLOONS - I know that they were in Central Park at East Ham, somewhere on Wanstead Flats, the Bow Back Rivers and at Beckton Gas Works (on the sewer bank and the foreshore). I am pretty sure that there was also one in the Memorial Grounds at West Ham. 

Was there any more?
 
Was there just one balloon at each site or a group of them?


I have come across the following on the internet but do not fully understand it:
The 900 series of squadron numbers was allocated to Barrage Balloon units of the Auxilliary Air force.
909 ( County of Essex)      16 May 1938   5 Flts of 9 Balloon – West Ham, East Ham
910 ( County of Essex)      5 July 1938   5 Flts of 9 Balloon – Dagenham, East Ham. 3 Waterborne (Aug 1940)

What does 5 flights of 9 Balloon mean?

ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS – I know about the one in Tollgate Road,  and I have heard that there was one in the Memorial Grounds and also at Beckton Gas Works. There must have been one on Wanstead Flats. Was there any more?

Were these manned by the military or by civil defence personel.

Kathy

Offline KenM

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #1 on: 03 April, 2010, 03:28:14 PM »
Hi Kathy,
There was a single barrage balloon sited on the sportsfield adjacent to King George Ave, Custom Hse almost immediately behind No 11 & operated by a group of young ladies serving in the WAAF.
I believe this site is now a city farm.
There was also a heavy A/A battery located on what we called the dust chute which was accessed from the old Becton Rd & clearly visible from No11 KG Ave, manned by a unit of the Home Guard.
Yes, are are correct in saying that the Wanstead Flats was home to anti-aircraft guns, these were multi-firing guns which as kids we called rockets & made an almighty noise when in action, they covered most of the flats. Not sure who operated this site.
I hope this puts another piece in the puzzle.
Kenm

Terry_Maker

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #2 on: 03 April, 2010, 05:05:25 PM »
Hi Kathy,

Balloon Squadrons are RAF Squadrons, just like the fighters, and Bombers, so their set up would be similar.

So this is interpreted as:  9 Balloon Squadron, (909, County of Essex), having 5 operational 'flights' of balloons.

An operational flight in the RAF was usually 12 'aircraft', if this set up was the same, and there is every reason to think it was, since it's the RAF, then you have 5 flights, with 12 balloons in each flight, or, 60 balloons in the Squadron.

Must have been a pretty impressive sight when they were all 'flying'!

Terry M

Terry_Maker

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #3 on: 03 April, 2010, 05:09:28 PM »
Reading your post again Kathy, then West Ham, East Ham, Dagenham, and the Waterborne, (floating in the docks probably), warranted 120 balloons, given the size of that area they were probably a mile or so apart.

Terry M

Terry_Maker

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #4 on: 03 April, 2010, 05:17:49 PM »
From the Archives of 'Flight' magazine for that period.

(Auxiliary Air Force Reserve, Mixed Army and RAF ranks)

No. 909 (COUNTY OF ESSEX) (BALLOON) SQUADRON.—H. W. Ken, M.P., is granted a commission as Pilot Officer (February 15).

No. 910 (COUNTY OF ESSEX) (BALLOON) SQUADRON.—Maj. F. Drake, M.C., is granted a commission as Squadron Leader and appointed to the command of the Squadron (February 1); A. Lyons, K.C., M.P., relinquishes command of the squadron on being appointed to the General List (February 1).

Hope this helps

Terry M

Terry_Maker

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #5 on: 03 April, 2010, 05:21:43 PM »
Back again!

'9 Balloon' in this case was the number of balloons in each flight, so to revise my earlier estimate:-

9 balloons times 5 flights times 2 squadrons = 90 Balloons to fly, so around a mile and a half between them!

Terry M

Terry_Maker

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #6 on: 03 April, 2010, 05:28:12 PM »
The 'Flight' references are for 1939

Terry M

Offline Kathy Taylor

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #7 on: 03 April, 2010, 06:13:11 PM »
I am absoloutley gobsmacked. I just had no idea that there were so many. Will write more later as I have a date with the new Dr Who. Have just found this amazing website with details and photos of the 910 Squadron and much much more http://www.bbrclub.org/LAC%20Ronald%20Bullimore.%20He%20was%20a%20member%20of%20C%20flight%20910%20squadron.htm

Kathy

Offline ALANF

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #8 on: 03 April, 2010, 06:44:08 PM »
Kathy

I was told on a previous posting on this subject, that there was a site at the recreation ground in Prince Regents Lane. What brought this up was that we were talking about why one of the football pitches nearest the road, had cinders for a surface when all the remaining pitches were grass. I was told that it was female crewed and the huts that we used as changing rooms, were used as their accommodation. The cinders had been obtained from Beckton Gasworks, and had been laid especially for the baloon site.
Alan

Offline Will.B

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #9 on: 03 April, 2010, 08:42:53 PM »
These were the 3.7 Anti Aircraft guns I use to fire in the army,I use to be seated right on the gun,we had no ear protectors and I can tell you the noise was terrific,very often we lost our hearing for a while after a shoot, when somebody got brave enough to ask the Sergeant for some cotton wool he said
don't be like a p--f and get on with the job.When we fired our first shot I thought the gun had blown up.
Will

Offline Will.B

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #10 on: 03 April, 2010, 08:56:46 PM »
This (4.5) is even a heaver Anti Aircraft gun that we fired on the coast and if anything was a bit louder,once again I am seated inside the gun.
Will

Offline poppy show

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #11 on: 03 April, 2010, 10:00:34 PM »
Hi Kathy
my mate reckons there was anti aircraft guns on parsloes park ,Dagenham

     Barry.
« Last Edit: 03 April, 2010, 10:29:34 PM by poppy show »

Offline Kathy Taylor

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #12 on: 04 April, 2010, 12:05:12 AM »
Thanks for all the replies and please keep them coming. I have decided to make this into a document with all your memories and  plot all the locations on a map. Just like I did with the Great Flood document that I did a couple of years ago.

Here are a few more locations that I have found references to:
Barrage balloons (foreshore and sewer bank) and two A/A guns (on the coke plant and sewer bank) at Beckton Works manned by Army.
Warton Road  by the Waterworks River
West Ham Football Ground
Abbey Mills Pumping Station
Balaam Street Park

TERRY-M – thankyou for explaining about the Flights and the information about the Squadron Leaders. As you say 90 out giant balloons over East and West Ham must have been a sight to behold.

In a posting last October Alffox mentioned Mobile Anti Aircraft Guns travelling around the local roads in the early days of the war. There are some lovely paintings showing local barrage balloons in Kem Kimberley’s book Oi Jimmy Knacker.

ALAN-F– I take it you mean Beckton Road Park, where the lido used to be?

WILL-B – is that you in the photos or general images of the A/A guns?

KEN-M – I think the A/A battery that you are referring to is in Beckton District Park, near the corner of Tollgate Road (used to be the old Beckton Road) and Stanfield Road. Here is a picture of it in the 1970s when it was quite derelict. It was partly recessed into the ground and partly mounded over, it had a central rectangular building with a number of rooms and tunnels and four unconnected gun sites, each with rooms and shell stores disposed around a circular retaining wall.  It was listed  as Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage who thought it best to bury it under a mound of earth to keep what was left of it intact.

Please do let me know if you can think of any sites or if you have any photos that show any of the balloons or gun sites in this area.

Kathy

Offline MickG

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #13 on: 04 April, 2010, 12:18:12 AM »
I have also heard of a A/A Battery based on the the Memorial grounds. By clicking on the Google Map link below, it should show a round earth ring just north of Ronald Avenue which I believe is the remains of the gun emplacement.

Mick

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=51.52547,0.009071&spn=0.002446,0.004801&t=h&z=18
« Last Edit: 04 April, 2010, 08:58:19 AM by MickG »

Offline ALANF

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Re: Barrage Balloon and A/A Gun Sites
« Reply #14 on: 04 April, 2010, 08:43:48 AM »
Kathy

The recreation ground was just off the crossroads of PRL and the Beckton Road. With your back to the Beckton Rd., walking North up PRL, the 'Rec' was immediately on the right hand side. The cinder pitch was adjacent to PRL, and was the first football pitch as you went in the gate. The group of wooden huts used as changing rooms were about 100 yards in on the left hand side.
Alan