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Three generations meet to remember Blitz heroes

THREE generations met in Solihull this week to remember the local men who did their bit during the Blitz.

THREE generations met in Solihull this week to remember the local men who did their bit during the Blitz.

Squadron Leader Phil Bonner is researching the squadrons who deployed barrage balloons above Birmingham and Coventry - helping to protect the cities from German bombers.

Among the members of 916 Squadron were Solihull resident John Frame and Graham Bell - the father of Mayor David Bell. On Monday, Cllr Bell invited a group of local people with stories to tell to the civic suite.

Now aged 88, John remembers the gruelling effort to keep the bombers at bay. He told the Solihull Times about his squadron’s valiant efforts to shield Coventry from the bombs which rained down on the city.

“It was hard work - particularly in the early months. Physically it could be very demanding and you would have to be ready at all hours. The balloons could be the most temperamental animals, all it required was a bit of wind and they’d move.

“Another problem was the number of people we had available. In the early days a crew was made up of 18-20 people, but as the barrage balloons were stretched out further and further, the crews shrank and we ended up with half that number to do the work.”

Also present at Monday’s lunch was Angela Cloke from Knowle whose grandfather (Jack Houghton) played a similar role.

“I’m very big on family history,” she said. “So to be able to meet someone who was in the same squadron as my grandfather is really fascinating.”

Sq Ldr Bonner is currently compiling his research on the 916 Squadron and others which defended Birmingham and Coventry.

Cllr David Bell said: “These days there’s probably a lot of local people who don’t know that much about what these people did during the war - but their jobs were important and every one involved contributed to us winning.”

 

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