Wartime Wednesday: Barrage Balloons
Simply put, a barrage balloon is a bag filled with lighter-than-air gas attached to a steel cable anchored to the ground. A winch is used to raise or lower the balloon in an effort to deny low-level airspace to enemy aircraft in three ways:
- Forced aircraft to higher altitudes, decreasing surprise and bombing accuracy
- Enhancing ground-based air defenses and the ability of fighters to acquire targets
- Presenting a mental and material hazard to pilots
Barrage balloons were used extensively in England (especially London) during WWII. By the middle of 1940, there were over 1,400 balloons, a third of them over the capital. Would you be surprised to discover that these balloons were also used in the United States?
During the summer of 1941, British officers warned Americans that Nazi planes could fly at 20,000 feet and reach the US mainland within twelve hours. In response, the Navy created two Barrage Balloon squadrons, both of which were trained at Camp Tyson in Paris, Tennessee. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US implemented an extensive balloon defense in areas such as San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle on the west coast and Norfolk, Pensacola, and New York City on the east coast. Vital facilities in the Great Lakes were also shielded.
Severe storms in August and October 1942 caused some of the balloons to break loose, trailing cables that short circuited power lines. Some rouge balloons escaped capture for extended periods such as the Fort Drum balloon that evaded officials for more than a week. Following the incidents, new procedures were put into place which included stowing the balloons during winter months, regular deployment exercises, and a standby team to deploy balloons in case of attack.
With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.
Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.
Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?
Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.
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