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History of No.14 Balloon Section

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    Posted: 28 Jun 2014 at 11:33
History of No.14 Balloon Section R.F.C. & R.A.F
1916 –1918
Transcribed by Robert Pugh from AIR1/163/15/131/1 – History of 14 Balloon Section R.A.F. 1916 –1918
 
(a). Formed at Roehampton, the 1st May 1916.
 
(b). Proceeded overseas 25th May 1916, landed at Le Havre and sent to Rouen. C.O. Capt. Faithful.
 

(g). Notable Parachute Descents

 
Lt. Simpson was burnt in a twin-basket Cacquot. Both observers jumped but the balloon caught up Lt. Simpson and he was badly burnt and died afterwards.
               
Lt. Cleaver parachuted from balloon which burst at 4000 feet. The balloon caught him up and the suction closed his parachute; he fell rapidly with the balloon and was killed.
               
Lt. Holloway did 3 parachute descents from burning balloons.
 
21/4/17 & 4/5/17 – Lt. Sharp parachuted from burning balloons. On the latter occasion Lt. Sharp stayed in the basket firing his revolver at the E.A. although the balloon was well alight.
 
(h). Notable Achievements of Section
 
19th Aug 17
13 shoots and much movement.
20th Aug 17
14 shoots.
22nd Mar 18
Last balloon in air in 5th Army.
20th May 18
13 shoots.
5th June 18
11 shoots.
15th June 18
14 shoots.
17th June 18
16 shoots.
19th June 18
21 shoots.
13th July 18
14 shoots.
16th July 18
21 shoots.
17th July 18
11 shoots.
21st July 18
20 shoots.
8th Aug 18
21 shoots. (2nd Battle of the Somme)
7th Sept 18
Moved forward 8000 yards.
6th Oct 18
Moved forward 8100 yards.
24th Oct 18
Moved forward 9000 yards.
28th Oct 18
5 shoots, 22 NF’s and much Intelligence.
Balloon worked at distance of 3000 yards.
2nd Nov 18
11 shoots.
7th Nov 18
Much Intelligence.
 
(i). Honours and Congratulations
 
28/7/16 & 5/1/17 – Congratulated by Brigade on number of shoots and good work done.
 
17th Aug 17 – Congratulated by 35th Division Artillery.
 
D.F.C., Lt. Annan, T.C.
M.M., 22074 Cpl. Jones, D.J. and A/1st A.M. Taylor, H.
Mentioned in Dispatches, F/Sgt. Clarke, J.
 
This Section has remained with 14 Company ever since the Company was formed.
 
Section moved forward over 50 miles from Aug. 8th to Nov. 1918.
 
 

14 BALLOON SECTION

 
(1)
Date
(2)
Station
(3)
Type of Balloon used
(4)
Name of C.O.
(5)
Section Commander
(6)
Wing and Brigade
(7)
No. of times Balloon destroyed by E.A.
 
25/5/16
 
Buire-sur-Ancre
 
Drachan
 
Capt. Faithful
 
No.1 K.B. Sqdn.
4th Bde.
 
Nil.
29/7/16
Dernancourt
do.
do.
 
do.
do.
 
4/8/16
 
Meaulte
do.
Cacquot
 
do.
 
 
do.
 
do.
19/9/16
Carnoy
Cacquot
do.
 
do.
do.
 
30/9/16
 
Mametz
 
do.
 
Maj. Faithful
 
Lt. Simpson
4th Balloon Wing,
4th Bde.
 
do.
 
28/1/17
 
Cappy
 
do.
do.
Capt. Buchanan
 
Lt. Cleaver
 
4th Balloon Wing.
 
One.
7/4/17
Hamelet
do.
do.
do.
do.
Nil.
8/4/17
Marquaise
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
9/4/17
Roisel
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
10/4/17
Hamelet
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
16/4/17
Hervilly
do.
do.
do.
do.
Two.
6/5/17
Villers Faucon
do.
do.
do.
do.
Nil.
21/7/17
do.    do.
do.
Capt. Robotham
Lt. Scanlon
3rd Balloon Wing.
do.
24/8/17
Lieramont
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
2/9/17
Hervilly
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
 
12/3/18
 
do.
 
do.
 
do.
 
do.
5th Balloon Wing,
5th Bde.
 
do.
22/3/18
Villers Carbonnel
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
 
12/4/18
 
Behencourt
 
Cacquot
 
Capt. Robotham
 
Lt. Annan
5th Balloon Wing,
5th Bde.
 
Nil.
25/4/18
Bazieux
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
 
Warloy
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
7/8/18
Hennencourt Wood
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
16/8/18
Millencourt
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
21/8/18
Albert
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
24/8/18
Becordel
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
28/8/18
Fricourt
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
29/8/18
Mametz
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
30/8/18
Montauban
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
3/9/18
Combles
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
4/9/18
Rancourt
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
6/9/18
Nurlu
do.
do.
do.
do.
One.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
18/9/18
Saulcourt
do.
do.
do.
do.
One.
26/9/18
Villers Faucon
do.
do.
do.
do.
One.
29/9/18
St. Emilie
do.
do.
do.
do.
Nil.
5/9/18
Bony
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
8/9/18
Beaurevoir
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
13/9/18
Bertry
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
22/9/18
Reumont
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
24/9/18
Le Forest
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
 
Pommeruil
do.
do.
do.
do.
do.
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NickForder View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 2014 at 14:54
The Capatin Robotham is probably 2Lt Gordon Blews Robotham, Sherwood Foresters, Temp Captain attached RFC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 2014 at 15:40
Very interesting Rob.

Have you located any other KBS histories?

Ian
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ROBPUGH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2014 at 12:11
Thanks Nick for info on Robotham.
 
Ian - I also have the 19 K.B.S. History. I'll transcribe it and post it on the forum.
I have got a copy of a file (AIR1/1004/204/5/1269) containing information on balloon casualties that makes interesting reading.
Here are a couple: -
 

To: -

H.Q., R.F.C.

----------------

 

Date 20-9-17.

 

Casualty report on Balloon No. B.M.A. 9D.

on charge of 2nd Balloon Wing, Section No.9.

Date of issue (to section): 28-8-17. Hours flown: 49 hours 14 minutes.

Details as to why Balloon is unserviceable:

 

Destroyed by Shell fire 19-9-17.

Number of holes or small rips – approximately – 200.

Disc of valve pierced.

Position of holes fairly evenly distributed over whole Balloon.

 

Previous damage.

 

17-9-17. 5 bullet holes.

16-9-17. 2 bullet holes.

12-9-17. 17 shrapnel holes.

11-9-17. 22 shrapnel holes.

7-9-17. 2 holes in envelope.

1 hole in Ballonnet.

            1 hole in Port Elevator.
 

To: -

H.Q., R.F.C.

----------------

 

Date 29-10-17.

 

Casualty report on Balloon No. F.M.118/D.

on charge of 1st Balloon Wing, Section No.20.

Date of issue: 13-10-17. Hours flown: 23 hours 9 minutes.

Details as to why Balloon is unserviceable:

 

On the morning of the 29th October 1917, at 8.0 a.m. the above balloon ascended to a height of 3,000 feet with Lieutenant J.H. O’Connell and Captain J.L. Fry.

 

At 8.17 a.m. the winch telephonist informed the balloon that an E.A. was seen approaching the balloon from the East.

 

The aeroplane when noticed by the observers was about 2,000 yards away and at a height of approximately 3,500 feet.

 

The aeroplane opened fire at a distance of 1,500 yards diving towards the balloon, setting it on fire.

 

Both observers descended safely in their parachutes.

 

Our four Lewis guns fired three drums, one gun went out of action owing to return spring breaking.

 

I beg to point out that no warning was received of approaching E.A. from the A.A. Battery in the vicinity and it was not until both observers had left the basket that three rounds were fired.

 

The aeroplane after encircling the balloon made off in an Easterly direction.

 

On examining the basket several bullet holes were found, which leads to the belief that the basket was aimed at.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2014 at 14:15
I'd be interested in anything you come across for Lieutenant Thomas Guinan, General List attached RFC/RAF, commissioned from 16th Manchesters (formerly 6993 WO2/RQMS), who was a KB officer.

His MIC notes him as having served at 2 BTD, Richmond Park, so his medal entitlement might be linked solely to his service with the Mancs (to BEF 7.11.1915) and he may never have served overseas with a KB unit.

He was a commercial traveller from Ormskirk, having served previously with the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. the 16th Mancs were the 1st Manchester Pals. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2014 at 15:26
Rob,
I've been working on the RNAS Balloon Sections at Gallipoli. They had their problems with German/Turkish aeroplanes and shrapnel, but nothing compared to the Western Front sections.

You have to admire those old balloonatics, sitting up there with their balloons almost flashing a neon sign saying - Here I am, come and get me!
The early balloons were all a bright yellow as well, only later were they finished in various type of camouflage.

One thing I have learnt during my research is that there are huge gaps in our knowledge of balloon operations, Western Front and all the Sideshows. I also have, as mentioned above, an enormous respect for those guys.

Any chance you might have a Journal article in the works? I am about to inflict my RNAS research on Mick - Sorry, Mick.

Ian
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2014 at 16:53
Not that I disagree that more should be published on them, but wasn't there been a C&CI Journal devoted to the Balloonatics ?
Certainly, an article noting where the various KBS served would be very useful.
It is notable how many KBS members were 'combed out' in 1917/18 for transfer to the infantry, to be replaced by lower medical grade men, many of whom weren't physically capable of taking on the work involved.
I interviewed a 6 Sqn pilot many years ago who had had a trip in a balloon as part of an exchange deal agreed with his CO. The balloon was attacked by an aircraft and the observer ordered the pilot to jump. He was reluctant, having never used a parachute. He was told to jump anyway as instructions would be shouted to him on the way down...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2014 at 22:17
Some notes I've made on the early all RNAS KBS.

Note on the Numbering of Kite Balloon Sections.

In the beginning there was the RNAS who had charge of all things lighter than air.
1 KBS went to Gallipoli on Manica.
2 KBS went to France.
3 KBS went to Gallipoli on Hector.
4 KBS went to France.
5 KBS went to Dover with Menelaus. Later transferred to City of Oxford?
6 KBS went to France.
7 KBS went to Gallipoli on Canning, then served in Salonika.
8 KBS went to France
9 KBS to 12 KBS to France?
13 KBS to Egypt and Aden.
14 KBS and on ??? - was 14KBS originally an RNAS unit?

Sensibly, in the autumn of 1915 responsibility for KBS in France was transferred to the RFC.
It appears that the RFC continued numbering KBS consecutively. However, it also seems that they reused 1 and 3 KBS which were in France by the early 1916. War in the Air, Vol 2, p.196 notes on 1 April 1916: ‘No.1 Kite Balloon Squadron (Nos. 1 and 3 Sections)’ was part of IV Brigade. Probably, 5 and 7 KBS were also reused.

As Manica returned to UK before the end of 1915, the reuse of 1 KBS may not have caused any confusion.
Hector remained at Gallipoli until May (?) 1916, so numbering of 3 KBS may have briefly been duplicated.
Canning remained at Gallipoli and Salonika until July (?) 1916. Her 7 KBS was transferred ashore in May 1916 and was ordered home in October (AIR 1/658/17/122/582).

Not much, but it's a start.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ROBPUGH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2014 at 19:17

Nick,

I have checked the Nominal Roll of R.F.C. Units (Overseas) (AIR1/1214/204/5/2630) and can find no mention of Thomas Guinan with any of the balloon units. This roll covers the period Nov. 17 to Jan. 18 (approx), so it would appear he was not in France at this time. If I find anything on your man I will let you know.

 

Ian,

Unfortunately I don’t feel I’m clever enough to write an article for the journal. I find it hard to string all my research together into an interesting narrative. Confused But never say never, it might happen one day. That said, I’m more than happy to pass on information I find. Big smile

Your right about those balloon chaps, a very brave bunch of men.

I don’t have any information on the R.N.A.S. Kite Balloon Sections, but the following might be of interest.

 

The below list is extracted from AIR1/1214/204/5/2630 – Nominal Roll of R.F.C. Units (Overseas) With Lists of Officers and Aerial Gunners. Jan.1918. (More accurately Nov. 17 to Jan. 18).

 

France

 

1st Balloon Wing Headquarters.

Lt.-Col. P.K. Wise, D.S.O. Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Wing Commander.

Capt. M.W. Bovill. R.F.C. (S.R.) Adjutant.

Lt. S.S. Dixon. R.F.C. (S.R.) E.O.2.

1st Balloon Company (8 & 20 Sections).

2nd Balloon Company (Page missing).

3rd Balloon Company (30 & 37 Sections).

4th Balloon Company (40, 42 & 46 Sections).

 

2nd Balloon Wing Headquarters.

Lt.-Col. H.M. Meyler, M.C. Border Regiment. Wing Commander.

Capt. C.B. Baker. Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Adjutant.

Lt. G.R. Nicholson. R.F.C. (S.R.) A/E.O.2.

5th Balloon Company (2 & 25 Sections).

6th Balloon Company (16 & 32 Sections).

7th Balloon Company (15, 18, 36, 38 & 47 Sections).

8th Balloon Company (23 & 39 Sections).

11th Balloon Company (9 Section).

13th Balloon Company (3 & 4 Sections).

17th Balloon Company (13 Section).

 

3rd Balloon Wing Headquarters.

Lt.-Col. F.H. Cleaver, D.S.O. General List. Wing Commander.

Capt. J.G. Howell, M.C. Royal Artillery. Adjutant.

2/Lt. R.P. Lamb. General List. Recording Officer.

Lt. G.F. Golding. R.F.C. (S.R.) E.O.2.

10th Balloon Company (5 & 28 Sections).

12th Balloon Company (35 & 45 Sections).

18th Balloon Company (1 & 31 Sections).

19th Balloon Company (11 & 44 Sections).

 

3rd (Corps) Wing Headquarters.

Capt. W.L. Burt. Essex Regiment. Adjutant.

Lt. H.L. Horn. R.F.C. (S.R.) E.O.2.

16th Balloon Company (12 & 43 Sections).

 

5th Balloon Wing Headquarters.

Lt.-Col. Hon. A.L. Byng. R.F.C. (G.L.) Wing Commander.

Capt. A.J.R. Waller. Essex Regiment. Adjutant.

Lt. R.F. Howard. R.F.C. (S.R.) E.O.2.

14th Balloon Company (14 & 29 Sections).

15th Balloon Company (19 & 41 Sections).

 

Middle East (I think)

 

6th Balloon Wing Headquarters.

21st Balloon Company Headquarters.

49 Balloon Section.

50 Balloon Section.

 

53 Balloon Section.

54 Balloon Section.

 

22nd Balloon Company Squadron (26 & 27 Sections).

 

23rd Balloon Company Headquarters (51 & 52 Sections).

 

57 Balloon Section (Aden).

Edited by ROBPUGH - 01 Jul 2014 at 09:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2014 at 19:35
The C&CI Journal did a KBS 'special' in 1996 (Vol 27 No 3), with articles, mostly, by David Hide.

So, I think that we are long overdue for another one ?

I have another account of the tethered balloon that was blown loose in a storm incident (mentioned in Morris' 'The Balloonatics') which I can offer, if anyone is interested ?

Does the Royal Aero Club have albums for the Aeronauts' tickets ?
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