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The Unveiling and Dedication of the Memorial to Balloon Command
at The National Memorial Aboretum 24th November 2015
Former veterans of Balloon Command and their families gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in
Alrewas to unveil and dedicate a Memorial to all those who served in Balloon Command.
After many years of preparation and collecting funds by many members of the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club,
the BBRC Memorial was finally officially unveiled and dedicated at the ceremony in the National Memorial
in Alrewas, Wiltshire on a cold Tuesday of the 24th November 2015.
As many members will recall, the original design for our Memorial was shown in the Christmas 2012 issue of
BBRC Newsletter after a long debate among members.
This design was subsequently modified to fit in with the changing requirements set by the Royal British Legion,
of the National Memorial Arboretum.
Mr. Nick Johnson of ‘Young Johnson Limited’, a local specialist monumental masonry firm from Wiltshire was
chosen to produce the actual Memorial, suggesting a particular type of blue/grey granite with engraved
picked-out in gold. His proposal was agreed by members at the BBRC AGM-2014.
Yet another long debate ensued concerning the precise wording of the Memorial plaque and the two descriptive
The final agreed version was again shown to the members in the Spring 2015 issue
of the BBRC Newsletter.
So, after so many years, the Memorial was finally being produced and the official unveiling was planned for the
Sadly, we lost our Hon President Mrs. Phyllis Wood, suddenly in September 2015 after a short illness, and so what
have been her crowning achievement as our President had to be scheduled without
The day chosen after consultations with the National Memorial Arboretum was Tuesday the 24th November,
which gave us some leeway following the Remembrance Sunday celebrations. All members received an invitation
to the unveiling ceremony in the post, together with suggested transport, hotel arrangements and an offer to help
any travel costs. About fifteen BBRC members decided to attend, most with family
members or friends.
Marion Haill ( #24 ) and Martin Postranecky ( #260 ), set about organising the actual unveiling ceremony with the help
of the National Memorial Arboretum ( NMA ) staff. The ‘Order of Service’ had to be decided upon, suitable readings
hymns chosen, the needs of padre/bugler/standard-bearer/organist etc. decided
It is still amazing to me that by Monday 23rd November, when we met with the NMA staff on site, all these various
had come together and we were actually almost ready to proceed – apart from
the weather !
Finally, the morning of Tuesday 24th dawned. We ‘set-up our BBRC stall’ – literally so, as the NMA provided us with
a suitable table in the Visitor Centre to ‘meet and greet’ arriving members. Marion Haill and Lyn Clack were ready
welcome arrivals and give them the printed ‘Order of Service’ and a lunch
voucher to use following the unveiling.
I am glad to report that about 30 expected visitors arrived on time – apart from poor ‘Molly’ Russell ( Member #103 )
her friend Peggy, who were delayed by a train failure and didn’t arrive until
after the ceremony.
Most of the members and visitors were ferried to Memorial site by a buggy, and we were all ready to start, when,
just before 12 o’clock noon, the clouds magically parted and the sun came out ! We were all entertained by a NMA
with suitable music while waiting for the service.
The actual service was introduced by our Hon. Secretary Peter Garwood, who described the history of the Balloon
and the Balloon Barrage in the Second World War, and the story of the BBRC since
the end of the war.
We were then welcomed by our padre, the Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood –incidentally he was himself in the RAF
during his National Service – who then carried out the Service with great gentleness, sensitivity and humour.
was helped by readings by Peter Garwood and Marion Haill.
The BBRC Memorial was unveiled by Mrs. Josie Wood, daughter-in-law of our late Hon. President Phyllis Wood,
who graciously agreed to perform the ceremony in the memory of Phyll. The Memorial was then dedicated to
Who Served in the Balloon Command’.
Three wreaths were then laid at the Memorial, two by Judith Smith ( Member #409 ) and Patricia Yates ( Member #439 )
behalf of the BBRC, and one by Keith Guyll ( Member #447 ) on behalf of his late
mother Sergeant Dora Guyll.
The Act of Remembrance followed, read by BBRC Hon. Secretary Peter Garwood, with the ‘Last Post’ and the
sounded by the Bugler.
David Frances from the
The unveiling and dedication ceremony ended with a Royal Air Force Collect, singing of the National Anthem and
Members and guests were then able to gather around the Memorial and spend some time contemplating the Memorial,
of absent friends and relatives, talking to each other and enjoying the
Following the ceremony, all members and guests retired to the nearby Pavilion restaurant for refreshments arranged by
NMA for the BBRC, to warm up and relax in each other’s company.
We also had the pleasure of the company of our Padre Tony Wood, of the NMA organist and of the members of the
RAFA Branch including Thomas Phillips and the Standard-Bearer David Frances.
We then welcomed our member ‘Molly’ Russell, who arrived after the ceremony with her friend Peggy – just in time to
partake in the refreshments. Molly was given a special tour of the BBRC Memorial and of the surrounding monuments in
own ‘private’ buggy, courtesy of the NMA volunteers.
It only remains to say that we were treated extremely well by all the volunteers and staff of the NMA, who could not
been more helpful. The local NMA Event Co-ordinator Emma Cropper deserves
special thanks for all her help and efforts.
Finally, for those of you who may wish to visit the BBRC Memorial at the NMA, it is located close to the main RAFA Memorial
‘The Eagle’ ) in the “RAF Wood” area of the Arboretum.
Marion Haill and Mrs Clack of the Barrage Balloon Reunion Club wait to meet and greet invited members and
to the unveiling and dedication of the Memorial to Balloon Command at the
National Memorial Arboretum.
David Frances of the Royal Air Force Association acts as Standard Bearer for the ceremony
to unveil and dedicate the Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial Arboretum
Bugler of the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas and Standard Bearer David
the Royal Air Force Association listen to Peter Garwood, Hon. Sec of the BBRC, speaking to the
attendees before they began to unveil and dedicate the Memorial to Balloon Command
Marion Haill of the BBRC gives a reading from John: 14.1.6.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many
rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and
prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be
also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
Josie Wood, daughter-in-law of the late Phyllis Wood, who was President of the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club,
the Memorial assisted by Mr Jeffrey Clack at the ceremony.
Watching the ceremony to unveil and dedicate the Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial
Arboretum in Alrewas are Betty Tyson and Judith Smith, widow and daughter of Fred Tyson RAF who served in
and 986 Squadrons overseas in WWII
After the unveiling the Service of Dedication of the Memorial to Balloon Command is led by the
Prebendary Tony Wood
Pictured laying a wreath is Patricia Yates, daughter of 1062656 Albert Eddie Yates, 976 Balloon Squadron.
Albert was part of Force "S", 3rd Division, 51st Beach Landing Unit, First Wave, First Tide, at Sword Beach
D-Day and then went on to Antwerp
Keith Guyll lays a wreath for his late mother Sergeant Dora ( Barney ) Guyll at the ceremony for the
Memorial to Balloon Command at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.
Guyll was featured in the BBC One Show about Women and Balloon Squadrons
David Frances of the Royal Air Force Association acts as Standard Bearer for the ceremony.
Here he is lowering the Standard during the ceremony.
Reverend Prebendary Tony Wood conducts the dedication service
wreaths were laid at the ceremony
Two wreaths were provided by the members of the Balloon Barrage Reunion Club and one from
member Keith Guyll on behalf of his late mother Sergeant Dora Guyll
Bostock served in 906 Squadron
was on balloon sites in
Bostock admires the Balloon Command Memorial
Eleanor Bostock wears her World War Two medals with pride.
2017049 Leading Aircraftwoman Mary ( “Molly” ) Russell served in Balloon Command from 1941-1946.
on balloon sites at Solihull, Wythall, and
travelled for 7 hours to reach the memorial service at the Arboretum
Garwood who designed the illustrative plaque on top of the Balloon Command
The illustrative plaque on top of the Balloon Command Memorial
The Memorial was crafted by Nick Johnson, stonemason from “Young Johnson Limited” of Westbury.
The Memorial has a description of the work of Balloon Command on the east side detailing the numbers of service people
balloons during the war
The Memorial has a description of the work of Balloon Command on the west side detailing the manner in which balloons
deployed to be able to defend the skies over this country during the war.