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  East Halton - D Flt 942 Sqn, G Flt 922/3 Sqn Balloon Command

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Updated: 22 Feb 08

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942 Sqn, 17 Balloon Centre, Balloon Command

On 25 Mar 1940 changes in the structure of the East Riding Balloon Squadrons saw A Flight of 944 become D and E Flt of 942 Squadron.

The movement of extra personnel to ‘D’ Flight coincided with an increase in the number of balloon sites in North Lincolnshire where its HQ had been established in a semi-derelict farmhouse north of East Halton. The village and the surrounding area were rural and although mains electricity had arrived there was no mains drainage or piped water; improvement in those services was cancelled for the war. However FHQ was connected to the electricity, and possibly some Balloon Sites near to commercial establishments also enjoyed such illumination. For those manning the Balloon Sites it was four years of water from pumps or wells, using Elsan chemical toilets, and reading by the light of oil lamps!

The Admiralty Oil Tanks and associated railway lines were the Flights’ main responsibility and 14 Balloons were deployed for protection. Most of these sites were on arable land and had access from local lanes and minor roads. However, one site south of the Tanks, was on marshland and some 900 yards from Haven Road. Access to this site required the construction of a track, capable of carrying the Winch Lorry over a dyke to a turning circle.

Flight HQ at East Halton was based in a derelict farmhouse that today is a family home. To the rear the wartime brick buildings of Flt HQ remain with 2 accommodation blocks and a standard air raid shelter. Only the concrete base of the wooden accommodation buildings remains. The store building now houses dogs in East View Kennels & Cattery, Townside, East Halton.

The red brick shelters confirm the existence of the three remote Sites North of the village. One is heavily camouflaged in a Hawthorn hedge and it is not visible from Skitter Road, one of the two on Brickyard Lane is minus the blast wall that protected the entry, and gives the appearance that it was used to house a horse, while the remaining one in the same lane is intact. South of the village the shelter off Brick Lane minus its blast wall is very picturesque as it is almost hidden by Ivy the climbing evergreen shrub. This Site still has its balloon main anchorage in place.

Those Sites that were nearer to the Humber bank can also be confirmed. One off Haven Road with the 900-yard cart track to it ends at the Shelter, which is now used to store farming equipment. The one on Station Road still has the two Shelters that both have been modified as byres for cattle. The main and a lone secondary balloon anchorage are still in place. The same site had been a depot by the Ministry of Agriculture where machines and equipment were stored during the draining of marshland to reclaim it to become arable farmland. On the defunct site there are a number of various sized concrete blocks, some with anchor rings within them. Those measuring a cubic yard have the appearance and size of Balloon main anchorages. They are thought to weigh nearly two tons and possibly came from the Sites on marshland to be used to form an unloading ramp at the depot.

Of those seven Sites that have disappeared, one at Chase Hill Farm is now hidden under the new gas fired electricity power station on Chase Hill Road while land south of the same road, where the second was is covered by storage tanks; there is no trace of the third off nearby Rosper Road while the fourth disappeared when the National Coal Board plant was built on Humber Road. There is no trace of the fifth within the estate of Immingham Dock or the sixth outside of it to the East. The seventh had been sited on the village football pitch at the end of Pelham Road, Immingham and was to protect the Locomotive Shed on the Dock.

That Site, No. 8, is now the headquarters of No. 866 (Immingham) Squadron Air Training Corp and surprisingly the main anchorage was unearthed, moved and deposited on open grass land, attempts to destroy it having proved to be unsuccessful, so it still can be seen.

 

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