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Thread: Which unit ?

  1. #1
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    Default Which unit ?

    Hi,

    These RAF groundcrew :

    -Sgt Price,
    -A/S/P Seakless
    -Cap Durling, Lodge, Sampson, Black, Adams
    -AC Antrobus, Allen, Chadwick, Brace, Bryant, Brown, Cooke, Campbell, Le Quesne, Rowlinson, Gossage, Rutter, Knibb, Galloway and Etchells

    all were posted to Toul (25 kms east of Nancy) from 16/9/1939 or 22/9/1939 to 5/10/1939.

    Does anybody able to identify the unit of these crews ?

    n°1 sqdn could be a possibilty if they are precursors

    TIA

    Bertrand

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    Hi,


    Twenty months ago I let this request about these RAF ground-crews.

    A recent visit at TNA KEW seems to let me the reply ; these military men must belong to "M" Balloon Unit.

    They must be "en route" to Sarrebourg where they will be posted.

    At Toul French Armée de l'Air had some ballon units and they certainly had been in exchange before going to Sarrebourg/Buhl.

    I do not know what is the "M" and is there anybody who have studied this unit when they were in France ?

    TIA

    Bertrand

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    M Balloon Unit was a propoganda spreading unit using small signal/weather style balloons to float packages of leaflets over German territory from France.

    After a set time in the air the leaflet bundle was dropped and spread out over a large area.

    Later in the war the allies used the bomber force instead of balloons and the M unit was used for sowing aerial minefields over the Thames Estuary
    Operation Albino http://www.bbrclub.org/free_balloon_...s_in_world.htm

    and led to releasing low flying balloons trailing cables to disrupt power cables in the occupied territory.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Outward

    Japan used similar balloons to bomb America using the jet streams.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_balloon

    Not to be outdone America developed the bat bomb and possible balloon delivery as an alternative to B24 delivery.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 30th March 2017 at 18:36. Reason: Added the external refs
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    Thanks for that Ross just learnt something I never knew about !

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    Cheers Paul,

    Looked into Balloon Command a few years ago and was astounded by the number of associated Operations carried out by both the RAF and RN with varying results from abject failure to extreme success.

    Kept on uncovering different Operation names eg Petard, Mutton, Outward and weapon names carried.

    On the economics of war the exchange of a destroyed power station (Bohlen) in exchange for a 35 shilling balloon has got to the "best bang for buck".

    The estimated damage of £49 million in 2017 money is astounding for a little known offensive.

    Wonder what cost to europe could be inflicted by our ex-met men team with the spare balloons in their sheds - a whole new WMD Brexit team.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 30th March 2017 at 19:57. Reason: sown the seeds of thought for Peter/Brian
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    Hello All,

    Ross is right!! I had, vaguely, heard of balloons used to drop propaganda, and/or explosives, but the only detail I had was of the Japanese using balloons in the jet-stream to ‘bomb’ Oregon and Washington State.

    This “M” Unit must have got its Met data from somewhere?

    The only guys I have in my list are:-

    George Arthur Bull located (as ‘Mr’) at HQ Balloon Command (Stanmore) on 25 Aug 39, and Dec 39. He is Commissioned Sqn Ldr (142623 RAFVR Met Branch) 1 Apr 43. He Relinquishes (Location not known) on 10 Feb 54. These two dates are bog-standard for very many WW2 uniformed Met Men.

    George David Robinson Located (as ‘Mr’) as S Met O HQ Balloon Command Jun 41. Commissioned Flt Lt (140063 RAF VR Met Branch) 1 Apr 43. To T/Sqn Ldr 1 May 44 (Loc not known). War Subs Sqn Ldr Jun 45 as 2 i/c HQ 2ATAF Met. Relinquish 8 Jun 58 as A/Wg Cdr (Loc not known).

    HTH

    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Went back to my notes on M Unit

    They were active from Oct 1939 to April 1945 and are listed as having the following numbers

    Operations (Total 478)
    1939 - 15
    1940 - 45
    1941 - 130
    1942 - 66
    1943 - 88
    1944 - 119
    1945 - 15

    Balloon Releases (Total 57,863)
    1939 - 988
    1940 - 2540
    1941 - 20108
    1942 - 15527
    1943 - 11319
    1944 - 5974
    1945 - 1407

    I'll continue digging to see if I have a note of locations in France 1939/1940

    From Nov 1940 the official method of Met forecast and warnings to the Barrage Balloon units seems to be Met Office Synoptic Divisions Instruction No.26 - whether that formed the detail for M Unit I know not.

    Met Assistants Grade II were posted to the Barrages to act on the forecasts and create skeleton charts. The HQ Command built up sufficient experience for the Assistants to be withdrawn in early 1942.

    For Operation Albino 40/41 the forecasts for London and Liverpool were from HQ Fighter Command who had an additional highly experienced forecaster posted in for the work.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 31st March 2017 at 07:31.
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    Ok brief notes on M Unit Deployment

    Formed 14th June 1939

    War Plan was to procede to France in Advance Party ship on Z+2 day then attach to French Balloon companies at Nancy until equipment arrives.

    Pre war establishment was 1 Officer and 20 airmen split into 4 operating flights.

    31st Aug 1939 first equipment sent to Epinal

    2nd Sept manning joined equipment and moved to operational base at Foug. Operations started.

    Mid Oct due to flooding at Foug unit moved to Schickenbush and started operations from this new site.

    17th May 1940 unit withdrawn via Cherbourg to Cardington and reformed for operations from Manston, Kent at 20:00 hrs 14th July 1940.

    F/Sgt Price in the original post was amoung the men commended by AOC Balloon Command during the action at Manston 24th Aug when the unit lost all equipment (bar one truck and a pair of shears) but suffered no fatality. Price and three other men entered the burning Hangar to remove Hydrogen trailers under machine gun fire.

    Peter - send your archive ferret Brian to find mentions of a special forecast "Papyrus" as this was specifically done for M Unit. (Synoptic Special Instruction No.13)

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 31st March 2017 at 08:17. Reason: Forecast added for Peter
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    Many many thanks Ross for all these absolutely accurate details.

    Where is Schickenbush ?

    F/Sgt Price is certainly the Sgt Price posted in France close Toul between mid-September to early October

    Thanks also Peter for checking.

    Bertrand
    Last edited by Bertrand H; 31st March 2017 at 18:26.

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    Hi Bertrand,

    Looks like it was a transcription error when the diary was written up on return to England.

    It went on to say near Sarrebourg and looking at modern maps it must mean Schneckenbusch.

    They were stationed in a Chateau and had a hangar at the aerodrome to the north but used a clearing in the woods as a launching site.

    Hydrogen was supplied from French sources at Epinal with leaflets from AASF headquarters which also administered the unit while in France.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 31st March 2017 at 19:48.
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