Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons and Units

Balloon Squadrons

In 1936, a scheme was approved by Government whereby 450 barrage balloons would be provided as part of the strategy for the Air Defence of London. The objective was to force enemy aircraft to fly at higher altitude thus preventing accurate bombing. This would be achieved by steel cables held up by the balloons flown up to a height of 5,000 ft. Aircraft which flew into the cables could be seriously damaged or brought down. The balloons, filled with hydrogen, would be flown either from fixed or mobile winches, each operated by 10 men or 14 women with 2 SNCOs.

     

On 17th March 1937, No. 30 (Balloon Barrage) Group was formed at Stanmore Park, Middlesex and was commanded by an Air Commodore. The 10 Barrage Balloon Squadrons that were to make up the Group were formed at 4 Centres in 1938 and were manned by the Auxiliary Air Force:

No. 1 Balloon Centre at Kidbrooke

No. 901 (County of London) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 902 (County of London) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 903 (County of London) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 2 Balloon Centre at Hook

No. 904 (County of Surrey) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 905 (County of Surrey) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 3 Balloon Centre at Stanmore

No. 906 (County of Middlesex) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 907 (County of Middlesex) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 4 Balloon Centre at Chigwell

No. 908 (County of Essex) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 909 (County of Essex) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

No. 910 (County of Essex) (Balloon) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force

All were embodied into the Royal Air Force in March 1939.

A further 89 Squadrons were subsequently formed, both in the United Kingdom and overseas.. Many, like the earlier Squadrons, were given County identities, but they had no connection with the Auxiliary Air Force. By the outbreak of war, Balloon Command numbered 16,400 personnel. All of the Balloon Squadrons were disbanded at the end of hostilities.

     

The Balloon Command Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum