Balloon Barrage, Newport, 1940s by George Phillis

The Home Front (detail), 1940 by Stanley Lewis

Heinkel crash, Stow Park Avenue, September 1940

Bomb damage at the Alexandra Hotel

A balloon site, (Coventry) Laura Knight, 1943
Wartime Newport:
The Home Front

An Artist's War

Newport Stories
Heinkel crash
During the early hours of September 13th 1940 a Heinkel HE111P (2670) was caught by a mobile barrage balloon cable while flying at low altitude above Bellevue Park.

The ARP recorded that at 0400:

"An enemy plane has crashed on No.31 Stow Park Avenue. One parachutist baled out and picked up in Queens Street and taken to Royal Gwent Hospital. No particulars of any other occupants."

The plane actually crashed into No.32 Stow Park Avenue killing two children, Malcolm and Myrtle Phillips. Mr and Mrs Phillips escaped. The pilot Oberleutnant Harry Wappler was the only survivor of the aircrew. He bailed out and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp in Llanmartin until his release in 1946.

The war had come to Newport and Stanley Lewis would incorporate this tragic incident in the top left quarter of The Home Front painting.

Barrage balloons were an integral part of Britain's defences during the Second World War and by September 1941 2,748 were in use.

By forcing German planes to fly above 5000 feet, barrage balloons reduced the accuracy of the German bombing and also made the aircraft more vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire.

In April 1941 women were first used to fly the balloons, a round-the-clock operation. After much discussion, it was found that fourteen women, rather than twenty as initially thought, could replace a ten man team.

Copyright: Newport Museum & Art Gallery Newport South Wales NP20 1PA


Stanley Lewis, MBE
Newport Stories