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Object of the Month - March 2015

PHO1250

WW2 KITE BALLOON MANUFACTURE AT THE MALTINGS

During World War II kite balloons, the little sisters of the well-known barrage-balloons which floated above Britain’s cities, vital dockyard and munition centres, were manufactured in the Maltings building in Church Lane, Old Amersham which, up to the 1930s, had malted the hops for Wellers Brewery.
Kite balloons were taken out to sea in a depot-barge where they were transferred to a naval drifter, the Coronia operating out of Oban on the west coast of Scotland was one of these, which transferred them to the ships of the convoy before they set off for the US to load much-needed supplies. Hundreds of dive-bombing attacks of conveys were frustrated by these kite balloons.
Kite balloons also were also used in substantial numbers in World War II, particularly by the US Navy for anti-submarine work as their height above the water gave them the ability to look down and spot tell-tale periscope wakes.
Our photos were taken by Wilfred Fox, Assistant Works manager and Director of Amersham Prints during the Second World War (they occupied the Maltings both before and after its war use).