Just as the British have been using balloon barrages – a wire net held between balloons – the Germans have also been using them to protect towns from bombing.
Today, the only instance of a British aircraft being downed by a balloon barrage was recorded. The unlucky crew were Second Lieutenant Louis George Taylor and Second Lieutenant Frank Ewart Le Fevre from 100 Squadron who were on their way back from Trevres in their FE2b. Both survived the crash and were taken prisoner. Taylor later described the crash:
“Ahead of us I saw the town of Esch in Luxembourg, and hearing a shout from my observer, I followed his pointing arm and saw that the town was defended by a balloon barrage, which is a steel net held up by balloons at intervals of about fifty yards. The balloons were at a height of about 4,000 feet, and it was impossible to get over them in our crippled condition, so I kept straight on, hoping to pass through the barrage without hitting a wire. My observer immediately opened fire on the balloon above in the vain hope of setting it on fire and dropping the net, but nothing happened. We were now passing under the balloon and for a moment I had the feeling that we must have missed the wires, but suddenly the machine gave a violent lurch, and was thrown backwards: I immediately put the nose down, but the speed indicator dial only registered 30 m.p.h. I wondered why the machine did not stall and plunge to the ground. The aileron controls went out of order immediately we struck the net. We went down to the ground, dragging the balloon and net. We finally got close to the ground, which was heavily wooded. The planes and nacelle were riddled with shrapnel holes, and one of the tail booms was nearly cut in two near the main planes. The nose was driven into the ground and one wing was crumpled up underneath the engine. The other wing was sticking straight up into the air, and I saw the balloon wire which had been our final undoing. It had just missed the nacelle by about two feet, and had entered both top and bottom planes just in front of the bomb rack. It had sawed its way anglewise towards the propeller from this point, and had cut the aileron balance wires through, passed through the steel bomb rack and was finally held up by the Michelin flare rack which was of fairly heavy steel, but it had completely worked its way through about three-quarters of the distance from leading to trailing edges of both top and bottom planes, and the first long front landing and flying wires were hanging as they had been sawn through.”