"I had said to my mother, I’m going to have something different than in an office. And she said, well, you sure got something different, because it was dirty work."
I was 19, I had to register and then after that, they called me up and it was just a little while, it was August by the time I was called up, which wasn’t very long. I was in before you knew it.
A [barrage] balloon [British defense against low-flying German aircraft] is a big thing and they’re held down with cement blocks, really heavy cement blocks, and that was a long time ago, I could never do it now, and sandbags, there was a lot of them all around the balloon. And if the weather changed, if the wind changed, you had to put your balloon into, the nose into the wind just like a plane and so sometimes you’re out there early, 2:00 in the morning because the weather changed and you had to put your balloon. And I had said to my mother, I’m going to have something different than in an office. And she said, well, you sure got something different, because it was dirty work.
Down the cable, there was a cartridge in a thing and then a piece of cable, and then another one. And if a plane hit that, the wing of the plane went in between, these things went, the cartridges went off and the plane was damaged and was brought down.
You had to keep them in good condition because the top was hydrogen, I think, and the bottom was oxygen. I think that’s the way it went. And I didn’t like to be, because one person had to sit by the long tube like thing, the gas held, the hydrogen, and turn it on. And I wasn’t too happy with that. And then if you had to, where they put the hydrogen was a hose and you had to get up this great big ladder and hold it, while they filled it up. It was known to blow up with fellows sometimes before we took over. But we were just fortunate, that was all.
I was in London when the first one Victory over Europe [8 May, 1945]. I was down there and we all went to Buckingham Palace, in the front. And wanted, we called out for the Queen and the royal family, and they came out and talked on the balcony. So we saw them. But the second one, I was home when Victory over Japan [14 August, 1945] and we had, there was one, the highest spot in the village, we kept putting wood and building a bonfire. And when that happened, when the war finished, they lit that.