RAF-Lincolnshire.info - the home of Royal Air Force and airfield history in Lincolnshire, including allied and other air services.

  17 Balloon Centre, RAF Balloon Command
RAF Sutton-on-Hull

RAF Stations & Bases
Aircraft types
Forum and Bulletin Boards
Search site
People Finder

Contact us

> Units and Formations

Flying Squadrons
5 Sqn
6 Sqn
8 Sqn
9 Sqn
10 Sqn
11 Sqn
12 Sqn
15 Sqn
18 Sqn
21 Sqn
22 Sqn
23 Sqn
25 Sqn
27 Sqn
29 Sqn
33 Sqn
35 Sqn
39 Sqn
41 Sqn
43 Sqn
44 Sqn
46 Sqn
49 Sqn
50 Sqn
51 Sqn
54 Sqn
56 Sqn
57 Sqn
61 Sqn
64 Sqn
65 Sqn
68 Sqn
69 Sqn
70 Sqn
71 Sqn
73 Sqn
75 Sqn
81 Sqn
83 Sqn
85 Sqn
88 Sqn
90 Sqn
92 Sqn
97 Sqn
100 Sqn
101 Sqn
103 Sqn
104 Sqn
106 Sqn
109 Sqn
110 Sqn
111 Sqn
112 Sqn
113 Sqn
116 Sqn
121 Sqn
133 Sqn
136 Sqn
139 Sqn
141 Sqn
142 Sqn
143 Sqn
144 Sqn
148 Sqn
149 Sqn
150 Sqn
151 Sqn
153 Sqn
154 Sqn
166 Sqn
170 Sqn
189 Sqn
198 Sqn
199 Sqn
203 Sqn
206 Sqn
207 Sqn
209 Sqn
210 Sqn
211 Sqn
214 Sqn
222 Sqn
227 Sqn
228 Sqn
229 Sqn
235 Sqn
236 Sqn
248 Sqn
249 Sqn
251 Sqn
253 Sqn
254 Sqn
255 Sqn
256 Sqn
264 Sqn
266 Sqn
280 Sqn
288 Sqn
300 Sqn
301 Sqn
302 Sqn
303 Sqn
305 Sqn
307 Sqn
309 Sqn
310 Sqn
349 Sqn
350 Sqn
401 Sqn
402 Sqn
404 Sqn
407 Sqn
409 Sqn
410 Sqn
411 Sqn
412 Sqn
415 Sqn
416 Sqn
420 Sqn
421 Sqn
430 Sqn
438 Sqn
439 Sqn
441 Sqn
442 Sqn
443 Sqn
452 Sqn
455 Sqn
460 Sqn
463 Sqn
467 Sqn
486 Sqn
503 Sqn
504 Sqn
527 Sqn
528 Sqn
532 Sqn
538 Sqn
542 Sqn
550 Sqn
576 Sqn
601 Sqn
609 Sqn
613 Sqn
616 Sqn
617 Sqn
619 Sqn
625 Sqn
626 Sqn
627 Sqn
630 Sqn

Heavy Conversion Units
1654 HCU
1656 HCU
1660 HCU
1661 HCU
1662 HCU
1665 HCU
1667 HCU
1668 HCU

Advanced Flying Schools
201 AFS

Advanced Flying Units
12 AFU
15 AFU

Flying Training Schools
12 FTS
1 Lancaster Finishing School
Central Flying School

Operational Training/
Conversion Units
53 OTU

56 OTU

228 OCU
230 OCU

Air Armament Schools
Empire Central AS

Other schools
1 Gp Aircrew School
1 Ground Defence School
1 Air Observers School
Central Gunnery School
5 Gp Anti Air School

Other units
Bomber Command
Coastal Command
Fighter Command
HQ No 5 Group
HQ No 23 Group
1485 Gunnery Flight
2782 Defence Sqn
178 Support Unit
399 Signals Unit
Nationality based Sqns

Updated: 12 Feb 12

Opened: 28 Jun 1939

Renamed: 15 Oct 1942 to RAF Sutton-on-Hull

Disposed: 14 Aug 61

17 Ballon Centre was not located in Lincolnshire, but was in Kingston upon Hull, on the far side of the Humber Estuary. However, the Centre exercised command and control over the flights, their equipment and personnel based at Grimsby Fish Dock, East Halton and subordinate locations.

The Hull Docks - including those at Immingham in Lincolnshire - were a prime target for enemy bombing raids. The regional ballon barrage for the Hull area, to protect the city and its vital docks and Royal Navy oil depot, was designated as RAF Number 17 Balloon Centre, subordinate to 33 Group of Balloon Command. Construction started late in 1938 with RAF Personnel reporting for duty early in January 1939.

17 Balloon Centre was established with three squadrons. By 25 Jan 1939, Nos 942, 943 and 944 (East Riding) Balloon Squadrons had established their headquarters in Kingston-upon-Hull, awaiting construction of their HQ buildings. Each Squadron was to consist of 5 Flights with 9 Balloons. In turn each balloon was crewed by a Corporal, 10 Airmen of the Auxiliary Air Force and a Regular RAF Balloon Operator.

On 28 Aug 1939 the Squadron’s Flight HQs were formed. No 942 Sqn had one flt HQ at Hull’s Riverside Quay Railway Station and two others at Grimsby Fish Dock and East Halton (both in Lincolnshire); together they were responsible for North Lincolnshire and the River Humber.

In Sep 1939 and the outbreak of war with Germany manufacturers were unable to meet demand for barrage ballons which resulted in only 180 balloons being available to the 14 barrages being created outside London. By 1 Oct 1939, the Hull Barrage still consisted of only 19 Balloons, which it will be seen was only about a quarter of those required.

In 1939 only one balloon protected the oil and petrol installation at Saltend on the north bank of the River Humber. However more effort went into protecting the Admiralty Tanks near North Killingholme Haven on the south bank of the same river. The North Killingholme Haven site in Lincolnshire was of military importance as its 53 tanks contained various fuels for the Royal Navy. This establishment covered some 100 acres of reclaimed land, and having been opened prior to WW1

By Jun 1940 over 50 fifty Balloon Land Sites had been created in the City of Hull and rural areas north and south of the River Humber, including those sites in Lincolnshire subordinate to 942 Sqn's Flights at Grimsby and East Halton.

These sites all required accommodation for the balloon crew. In settlements houses were commandeered and elsewhere crews were initially accommodated in bell-tents , later replaced by RAF Type B timber huts, or corrugated iron sheeted Nissen huts.

There were also balloon barrage drifters - eleven at Grimsby, one at Humber. Hired or commandeered river barges moored to buoys at strategic points, and crewed by RAF personnel to fly the balloons - they became known as the "Waterborne".

On 15 Jun 1940 38 Remote Balloon Sites were vacated, taking 26 winches, balloons and the personnel to Group HQ at Sheffield. This included two flt of 944 Balloon Squadron. The Hull Barrage was re-constructed by Wing Commander GES Lamb, OC 942 Balloon Squadron, having at his disposal a balance of 36 balloons, 14 of which were waterborne.

His headquarters was situated at Newland House, 435-439 Beverley Road, Hull with Flights “A” at the Riverside Quay Railway Station, Albert Dock, “B” Hedon Road and “E” Holderness Road in the City. In North Lincolnshire, “C” Flight at Grimsby with “D” at East Halton.

Humber Barrage Command and Control

Direction of the Hull Barrage fell to the local Barrage Control, who acted on orders from RAF Fighter Command in the form of the Sector Operations Room based at RAF Station Kirton in Lindsey. It was there that all information of approaching enemy aircraft from RADAR Stations and the Observer Corps was received.

A photograph of the site as it appeared in 1960 can be viewed on the 17 Balloons website. The tall balloon hangars are clearly visible in the centre of the image.

A thorough and informative history spanning the life of 17 Balloon Centre and other Sutton-on-Hull units can be found at www.17balloons.co.uk

Balloon Command
33 Group
17 Balloon Centre
942 Sqn

Remains in Lincolnshire

Of the 15 known land Balloon Sites that operated in North Lincolnshire, 7 have disappeared under industrial development but evidence of the remaining ones is abundant. The wooden buildings that were on all of them have perished but brick buildings can still be seen. Details are included on the East Halton page.

Bomber Command heraldic crest

17 Balloon Centre

Grimsby - E Flt 942 Sqn

East Halton - D Flt 942 Sqn

Aerial Photo of 17 Balloon Centre

Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire

Follow RAF Lincolnshire:
Visit RAF-Lincolnshire.info's facebook page. Like our page and stay up to date with our posts on facebook! Follow us on twitter and stay up to date with our frequent news items

Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com


powered by blueconsultancy