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- Location of story:
- What was to become known as Teesside.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 May 2005
Living within an area, which was bounded by Shipyards, Steel Works, Railway Marshalling Yards, and one of the biggest Chemical Works in England, meant that we seemed to have Barrage Balloons on every piece of open ground
Our nearest Balloon site consisted of a Nissan Hut and a circle of white painted kerbstones. In the very centre of the circle was a large pulley block through which the balloon cable passed. To one side of the circle was a motorised winch tractor unit, this was held in place by large blocks of concrete that in turn countered the pull of the balloon as it was raised and lowered.
The operational crew of the site consisted of one non-commission officer, a man and a small group of women who did all of the work. The officer used to parade the women with much shouting and to enhance his position he wore a side arm, a holstered pistol on his hip. He would put his hand on this side arm when he threatened us kids. We use to hang around and this seemed to irritate him, especially our laughter and trying to imitate him by strutting about and shouting commands. He let use know in no certain terms that if any of use ever dared to enter the circle of white kerbs he would shoot us died for being spies.
Then late one afternoon after returning from school the sky turned very dark and threatening, and in what seemed an instance, thunder and lightening filled the sky’s and we watched transfixed with horror and fascination as one after another the balloons were struck by the lightning, and disappeared in a great flashes of flame. The suspension cables came snaking down out of the sky, crossing one way and other the many streets below, removing chimneys and ridge tiles. It was quite a few days before the tangles of wires were cleared away and replacement balloons once again rose into the skies. One often wonders how bad the air raids would have been if the enemy had known that our barrage balloon defences were down.
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