Traces of World War 2 
RAF - 902 Balloon
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

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Barrage balloons

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Balloon barrages were a passive form of defence designed to force enemy raiders to fly higher, and thus bomb much less accurately. In July 1937 the siting of a barrage was started in London, and on September 21st 1938 it was ordered that this protection was to be extended to certain provincial towns and cities, those initially chosen being Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle upon Tyne, Plymouth, Southampton, Glasgow, and Cardiff.

The provincial barrages in each district were to be organised into Auxiliary Air Force Balloon Squadrons, comprising 24 balloons each. The squadrons further being sub-divided into 3 Flights of 8 balloons each, and these units were to be administered by the local Territorial Association. In each locality depots were to be formed to administer, to provide a peacetime HQ for the balloon squadrons, and to be responsible for the assembly and testing of balloons and the training of balloon crews in time of war.

On November 1st 1938 a separate Balloon Command, under the operational control of Fighter Command, was formed, its purpose being to take responsibility for the control and administration of the whole U.K. barrage comprising No.1 Balloon Training Unit at Cardington in Bedfordshire, the London Balloon Barrage Group, the Midlands Group, the Northern Group, and the Western Group, which included the balloon squadrons to be formed at Bristol, Plymouth, in the Solent area, and in South Wales. Temporary town premises were then being obtained to house each provincial Balloon Centre, these being used while the new specially designed centres were being built. On December 24th 1938 it was ordered that certain 'Key Buildings' were to be erected in advance of others at all provincial centres then under construction, thus enabling actual balloon training to be undertaken before the centre was formally opened.

The standard barrage balloon used throughout the war was designated the LZ (Low Zone). It was just over 62 feet long and 25 feet in diameter at its widest part and had a hydrogen capacity of 19,000 cubic feet. The LZ balloon was flown from a mobile winch and was designed for a maximum flying altitude of 5000 feet. The winch speed limited the raising and hauling down speed to about 400 fet per minute, which meant that the balloons required 11 minutes to reach 5000 feet from their close-hauled altitude of 500 feet. When an aircraft struck the cable of an LZ balloon armed with a Double Parachute Link, the cable was severed at the top and bottom by two cutting links. The aircraft thus carried away the main portion of the cable and an 8 foot diameter parachute opened at each end of the wire. Together the parachutes exerted a drag about six times as great as the engine thrust of a bomber, sufficient to stop it almost dead in its tracks, causing the victim to fall out of the sky and crash. As the cable parted from the balloon, a wire ripped off a patch which allowed the hydrogen to escape, causing the balloon to descend slowly to the ground.

Source: John Penny, A short history of No.11 Balloon Centre at Pucklechurch, 1939 to 1945

The editor of this page knows (at this moment) little about 902 Balloon Squadron. See:

17 Balloon Centre - RAF Sutton on Hull
Balloon Barrage Reunion Club
BBC WW2 people's War: Barrage Balloons
RAF Commands Forum - Barrage Balloon Squadrons losses

for more information about the Barrage Balloon Squadrons

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Losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

Corporal Robert Bell, RAF 512107, 902 Balloon Sqdn.. age 28, 28/06/1940, Seaton Hirst (St. John) Churchyard, UK

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17 Balloon Centre - RAF Sutton on Hull
Balloon Barrage Reunion Club
BBC WW2 people's War: Barrage Balloons
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
John Penny, A short history of No.11 Balloon Centre at Pucklechurch, 1939 to 1945
RAF - Campaign Diary - The Battle of France (May-June 1940)
RAF History - Bomber Command
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
Royal Air Force History Section
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
The Second World War - a day by day account

War over Holland




Air Aces
Airwar over Denmark
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
Armée de l'Air - Order of Battle, 10th May 1940
Australian Wargraves
Axis History Factbook
De Belgen in Engeland 1940-1945 (in Dutch)
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
British Aircraft Directory
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
HMS Cavalier
Ciel de Gloire (in French) RAF Squadrons
CWGC Cemeteries Germany
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
Danish WW2 Pilots

Dutch Pilots in RAF Squadrons
Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
'High flight', poem by John Gillespie Magee
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, poem by W.B. Yeats
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
Luchtoorlog ('Arial War', in Dutch, with many photos)
Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth
The Luftwaffe, 1933-1945
Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association
Nordic Aviation during WW2 aircraft of WW2
Polish Air Force 1940-1947 Operations Record Books
RAF Battle of Britain
RAF Upwood
De Slag om de Grebbeberg
Warbird Alley
War over Holland
World War II Aircraft wrecksites in Norway
North East Diary 1939-1945
Wartime Leicester and Leicestershire

The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1
WW1 Cemeteries

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This page is dedicated to the women and men of 902 Balloon Squadron.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to