Author Topic: Vernon's barrage balloon  (Read 343 times)

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Offline KenM

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Vernon's barrage balloon
« on: 12 May, 2018, 12:21:17 PM »
Hi All, can any of the posters recall the barrage balloon sited on Vernons playing fields & may have been one of the kids that were made welcome
 by the young ATS girls who spoilt us with chocolate & goodies from the NAFFI.
Of course this was wartime, so many of those kids would now be in their eighties & memories a little hazy.
Those young ladies worked damned hard, whoever said that woman are the weaker sex got it very wrong.
Kenm

Offline MickG

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #1 on: 12 May, 2018, 04:05:25 PM »
Ken, There seems to be little information on barrage balloon sites except possibly peoples memory. I did find the aerial picture of Dornier bombers over Custom House. The location of West Ham Stadium can clearly be seen so it should be easy to work out the location of Vernon's fields. There is no sign of barrage balloons in this picture, but I think this picture was taken on the first day of the Blitz when there were no, or limited barrage balloons covering London. Presumably they were quickly sited after the Bltz started.


Offline KenM

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #2 on: 13 May, 2018, 12:09:07 PM »
Hi MickG, great aerial photo of Custom Hse with Vernons sports field clearly defined.
The barrage balloon was tethered to the rear of a 3 ton lorry so easy & quickly moved.
The accomodation was of small single storey living area & toilets was prefabricated also quickly erected.
The most distinguishing feature that would have been visible from the sky would have been the circular black cinder track that surrounded the camp.

Offline harry

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #3 on: 15 May, 2018, 04:23:04 PM »
i think that photo that mick posted must have been taken just after the start of the blitz as I believe that the Victoria docks area seems to be still smoking from an original raid.
Also ican see from the photo that there is no visiable bomb damage to the turnings of Jersey  ,Mortlake and Varley roads which were bombed quite extensivly some time during the blitz .I
I personally believe that barrage balloons were used after the initial blitz was under way and I cannot remember any German planes being brought down by these balloons.
Another thought did they have to work out how high the enemy planes were flying and adjust the height of the balloons  to suit??
The balloon site  can remember was on the recreation ground at the junction of Becton road and Prince regents lane and that site was used for scrap timber from bomb damaged buildings just after the war where you could take your home made hand cart to load up with timber to use for fire wood.
Regards Harry .I.
« Last Edit: 21 May, 2018, 03:08:22 PM by harry »

Offline KenM

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #4 on: 15 May, 2018, 05:22:43 PM »
Hi Harry, I believe the barrage balloons were flown high enough to force the jerries higher than they planned, this would have diminished the accuracy of their bombing. (That was the theory)
Now a correction. I must apologise to the ladies of the WAAF, it was they that crewed the balloons, not the ATS as I incorrectly stated, sorry ladies.
Kenm

Offline MickG

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #5 on: 29 July, 2018, 11:32:56 AM »
It's funny how sometimes a thought suddenly flashes across ones mind apparently for no reason at all. I had one such inspiration today when I recalled the debate about Vernons Fields during WW2 and it suddenly occurred to me that Google Earth has a historic aerial photography facility built into it. The picture below is the result and I cantered it on the old Vernon's Fields. The image is 1945 vintage so is therefore a bit grainy and it is super-imposed on top of todays existing Google aerial imagery. Never-the-less, it is possible to make the outlines of old buildings and features.

If you have Google Earth on your computer and it is free to download, then click on the historical imagery icon which looks like a small clock on the top  row and set the slider bar back to 1945. It is then possible to zoom in even closer to your hearts content.

As a point of interest, if you scroll Google Earth down a bit with the historic image button set, its possible to see ships in the docks again

Cutsom House 1945 -  Image by courtesy of Goole Earth
« Last Edit: 30 July, 2018, 11:08:59 AM by MickG »

Offline KenM

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #6 on: 30 July, 2018, 10:53:18 AM »
Hi MickG, thanks for the interesting  photo,  between Alnwick Rd & Felstead Rd the images of Seamans Hospital can be seen.
Behind King George Ave & Baxter Rd there is a faint image that could be the Barrage Ballon WAAF crew accomodation block.
Google Earth opens a whole new world.
kenm.

Offline KenM

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Re: Vernon's barrage balloon
« Reply #7 on: 30 July, 2018, 11:31:10 AM »
The Vernons Barrage balloon was tethered less than 100 yards from our back door, in KG Ave, the noise of the balloon being hoisted, provided early warning to head for the Anderson shelter.
As I have said before, the WAAF crew were in their late teens/early twenties & worked their socks off, often being called upon during the night.
Not thought of as heros, but my goodness, they deserved to be.
kenm.