My Nan (my dad’s mum) was the only one of the four grandparents who was in the RAF and she was on the Barrage Balloons – we still have her uniform, as you will see from the photos below, she was a Sergeant.
This was my Nanny and Grandad Sid in the war
What was the purpose of Barrage Balloons?
Barrage balloons were put up to force the German planes to fly higher, so their bombing would be less accurate. The Barrage balloons were tethered to by steel cables strong enough to destroy any aircraft which flew into them
Balloon command operated the UK’s barrage balloon defences during the second world war. It was formed on 1st November 1938 and based at RAF Stanmore, Middlesex under the control of Fighter Command.
The balloons played a signifanct role in Britain’s anti-aircraft defences, as they restricted the freedom of German Aircraft, often forcing them to fly different routes to a particular target and into anti-aircraft fire.
Furthermore, the balloon’s highly visable presence boosted the morale of the civillian population.
During the Second world war, Balloon Command was organised into five groups in the UK. Each group was responsible for individual Balloon Centres in that region, which in turn were made up of balloon squadrons – nearly 100 in total.
The five groups making up the command were:
- No 30 Group, with its headquarters in Chessington, Surrey
- No 31 Group, with its headquarters in Birmingham
- No 32 Group, with its headquarters in Claverton, Somerset
- No 33 Group, with its headquarters in Sheffield, Yorkshire
- No 34 Group, with its headquarters in Edinburgh
Who served in the Unit?
Balloon Command also had the distinction of training large numbers of women
In 1940, it was decided to train members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) instead of male operators to relieve more men for active duty
In May 1940, the first batch of WAAF volunteers began a 10-week training course
This is my Nan’s uniform
Just remember, Stay Strong, Stay Safe and Be Kind
Lizzie, Charlie, Lollipop & Friends