Arthur Telford was born and lived in Sheffield where he married in 1933, producing at least two children. During the war he served in the Royal Air Force and came to Chelmsford in November 1942 as his barrage balloon squadron was brought in to bolster the town's defences against precision attacks from German aircraft. He was killed in May 1943 during the 'Chelmsford Blitz' when a German bomb fell and exploded at his barrage balloon's compound off New Writtle Street.
Arthur was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1908, the son of John Abbey Telford (1884-1957) and Lucy Telford (nee Garlick) (1884-1952). His parents had married in 1903 in Sheffield. Arthur had at least two siblings, John Abbey Telford (1904-1987) and Samuel Telford (1910-2001).
In 1911 three year-old Arthur was recorded by the census living with his parents and two brothers at 54 Lister Road in Sheffield. At the time Arthur's father was a varnish maker's labourer.
In 1933 Arthur married Lily Margerison in Sheffield. The couple had at least two children.
During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force as Leading Aircraftman 1076795 in 993 (Balloon) Squadron. The squadron assembled at Horsham St. Faith in Norfolk in April 1942, and in November of that year it was at Ipswich, Suffolk, helping to protect the town from German air raids.
Following successful low-level German attacks on Chelmsford in July and October 1942, 993 (Balloon) Squadron was moved to the town from Ipswich on 4th November 1942.
The squadron established balloon barrage in Chelmsford from 31 sites across the town. The Squadron’s H.Q. was set up at ‘The Priory’ in Writtle with additional accommodation nearby at ‘Ratcliffs’ in The Green, Writtle. Each of the three Flights also had their own H.Q.s in Chelmsford. Hydrogen for the balloons was obtained from the top secret plant at Chelmsford Gas Works, and balloon repairs were undertaken by R.A.F. Felixstowe. Work on the Squadron’s vehicles was carried out at the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (R.E.M.E.) workshops in Broomfield Road, Chelmsford.
Arthur TELFORD, Leading Aircraftman, 993 (Balloon) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Killed during an air raid off New Writtle Street, Chelmsford. Aged 36
In the early hours of 14th May 1943 Chelmsford experienced what was to prove to be its heaviest air raid of the war. In a sharp attack that lasted for just over an hour the German air force dropped a large number of high explosives, incendiaries and parachute landmines which caused extensive damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties in the town, and led to the deaths of more than 50 people; among them 36 year-old Arthur.
He was one of three balloonists killed when a 250 kg high explosive bomb fell and detonated within the compound of 993 Squadron’s barrage balloon site 26, some 273 feet north of the east end of Chelmsford City F.C.’s New Writtle Street stadium. The other men killed in the incident were Leading Aircraftmen Leslie Samuel Hall, and Thomas Harold Hunt. Another three, Leading Aircraftmen H. Potkins, F. Ashworth and H.F.L. Hobson were injured and taken to hospital. The bomb left a crater 20 feet across by 5 feet deep, while the balloon was lost and the winch badly damaged. Blast from the device seriously damaged seven maisonettes in a nearby cul-de-sac - numbers 8, 9, 10,12, 13, 14 & 16 Hayes Close.
Today Arthur lies Sheffield (Wisewood) Cemetery (Section G. Grave 3464).
993 (Balloon) Squadron provided a deterrent to the Luftwaffe’s low-level raids on Chelmsford until the end of January 1944 when it was redeployed as part of the preparations for the Normandy invasion. On its removal from Chelmsford the Squadron consisted of 16 officers and 388 other ranks.
Arthur's widow died in 1998.