3rd Anti-Aircraft Division (United Kingdom)

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3rd Anti-Aircraft Division
3rd AA div.jpg
Formation sign for the 3rd Anti-Aircraft Division.[1]
Active 1 September 1939 – 30 September 1942
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Division
Role Air Defence
Part of Anti-Aircraft Command (1939–40)
III AA Corps (1940–42)
I AA Corps (1942)
Engagements The Blitz
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj-Gen Lancelot Hickes
Maj-Gen William Wyndham Green

The 3rd Anti-Aircraft Division was an air defence formation of the Territorial Army, part of the British Army, created in the period of tension before the outbreak of World War II. It defended Scotland and Northern Ireland during the early part of the war.

Origin

Large numbers of Territorial Army (TA) units were converted to anti-aircraft (AA) and searchlight roles in the Royal Artillery (RA) and Royal Engineers (RE) during the 1930s, and higher formations were required to control them. The 3rd AA Division was the first division-level headquarters created de novo (earlier ones being converted infantry divisions). It was formed at Edinburgh on 1 September 1938 within Scottish Command, transferring to Anti-Aircraft Command when that formation was created on 1 April 1939. It was responsible for the AA defences of Scotland, including Northern Ireland and the Orkney and Shetland Defences (OSDEF). It operated with No 13 Group of RAF Fighter Command, covering Scotland and the North of England.[2]

Order of battle

The composition of the 3rd AA Division on the outbreak of war was as follows:[2][3]

Mobilisation

Mobilisation in the last week of August 1939 was difficult for the 3rd AA Division, which had the task of moving troops, guns and stores by road and by sea to remote and inaccessible sites in Orkney to defend the fleet anchorage at Scapa Flow, which had high priority.[33]

At this point the division had a strength of 111 HAA guns, while in the LAA role there were 18 3-inch, 5 2-pounder 'pom-pom' and 40 mm Bofors guns, and 340 light machine guns (LMGs), together with 159 searchlights.[34] The HAA guns were deployed in the defended areas as follows:[35]

Shortly afterwards, Tyneside and Teesside became the responsibility of a new the 7th AA Division, and the 3rd AA Division was able to concentrate on defending Scotland.[34]

Phoney War

Unlike most of Britain's defence forces, the 3rd AA Division was frequently in action during the so-called Phoney War that lasted from September 1939 to May 1940. The first action occurred unexpectedly on 16 October 1939, when nine enemy aircraft suddenly appeared out of cloud and dived on warships off Rosyth Dockyard, close to the Forth Bridge. No warning had been given, but gun positions of the 71st HAA Rgt hastily loaded for a 'crash' action under individual gun control, normal prediction being impossible against diving and turning targets. A total of 104 rounds were fired and one aircraft had its tail shot off (fighters accounted for another two). HMS Southampton was damaged. The following day, 14 hostile aircraft in three waves attacked warships lying in Scapa Flow. The Chain Home early-warning radar system did not yet cover Scapa, but the 226th Battery of the 101st HAA Rgt was able to engage and claimed one shot down. Among the vessels damaged in this raid was the Jutland veteran HMS Iron Duke, acting as a base ship and floating AA battery.[36]

These attacks led to calls for strengthened AA defence for the naval bases at Scapa Flow, Invergordon, Rosyth and the Clyde anchorage, and the 3rd AA Division was given priority for new guns. Starting in January 1940, the division was to receive 64 3.7-inch and 32 4.5-inch HAA guns and an increase to 100 searchlights, but only 10 Bofors and some Naval 2-pounders were available for LAA defence. The 3rd AA Division had many problems at Scapa, where a chain of rugged islands enclose an extensive area of water, which stretched beyond the reach of HAA fire from the islands. Installing gun positions on the islands required an immense amount of labour. A new Luftwaffe attack on 16 March 1940 caught the defences half-prepared: only 52 out of 64 HAA guns were fit for action, and 30 out of 108 SLs. About 15 Junkers Ju 88s approached at low level in the dusk: half dived on the warships and the rest attacked the airfield. 44 HAA guns of 42 AA Brigade engaged, but their predictors were defeated by erratic curses and low height. 17 LAA guns also engaged, but the Gun layers were blinded by gun-flashes in the half light. No enemy aircraft were brought down. A subsequent inquiry concluded that the low level attack had evaded radar, the gun lay-out still left gaps in the perimeter, and guns were out of action awaiting spare parts.[37]

There were three more attacks on Scapa Flow the following month. On 4 April, a formation estimated at 12 Ju 88s carried out a series of medium- and low-level runs, dropping bombs and machine-gunning AA positions, and escaped without loss. Four days later, 12 Heinkel He 111s spent 2 hours over the anchorage carrying out individual attacks, but four were shot down. On 10 April about 20 hostile aircraft made a night raid; some were successfully illuminated and three shot down. The Scapa defences were clearly improved, and close concentrations of fire over warships, supplemented by naval AA fire, could no hold off dive-bombing attacks. The Luftwaffe now turned its attention to the campaigns in Norway and France and the Low Countries[38]

In November 1939, the 3rd AA Brigade HQ and some of its units were sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force, defending the lines of communication.[39][40][41] The 3rd AA Brigade HQ returned to Northern Ireland after the Dunkirk evacuation.[42][43]

Battle of Britain

On 11 July 1940, at the start of the Battle of Britain, the guns of the 3rd AA Division under the command of Maj-Gen Leslie Hill were deployed as follows:[44]

The 3rd AA Division was now cooperating with Fighter Command's No 14 Group, recently reformed to cover Scotland.

In 1940, the Royal Artillery's AA regiments were designated 'Heavy AA' (HAA) to distinguish them from the newer Light AA (LAA) units. (Prior to that, some of the Regular Army and Supplementary Reserve regiments had included both HAA and LAA batteries.) Also during 1940, all the searchlight units, whether AA battalions of the RE or still forming part of their parent infantry regiments, were transferred to the RA. The units of the 52nd AA Brigade were therefore redesignated as follows:

  • 51st (Highland) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from January 1940[45][46]
  • 52nd (Queen's Edinburgh, Royal Scots) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from August 1940[47][48]
  • 56th (Cameronians) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from August 1940[19][49]
  • 57th (Glasgow) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from August 1940[21][50]

In September 1940, the 3rd AA Division formed the 3rd AA Z Regiment, equipped with Z Battery rocket projectiles.[51]

In November 1940, at the height of The Blitz, a new 12th AA Division was formed to take over responsibility for western Scotland and Northern Ireland, while the 3rd AA Division retained responsibility for eastern Scotland. The 3rd and 42nd AA Brigades were transferred from the 3rd AA Division to the new formation,[42][43] and 12 AA Divisional Signals was formed by expanding the Glasgow company of 3 AA Divisional Signals.[32] Both 3 and 12 AA Divisions, together with OSDEF and the 7th AA Division covering northern England, formed part of a newly created II AA Corps,[52] and the 3rd AA Division's commander, Maj-Gen Hugh Martin, was promoted to command the new higher formation.[2]

Blitz

From November 1940 and during The Blitz, the 3rd AA Division's order of battle was therefore as follows:[53][54][55][56][57]

  • 36th AA Brigade Edinburgh & Forth
    • 71st HAA Rgt – as above; left October 1941
    • 114th HAA Rgtformed November 1940[56][58]
    • 31st LAA Rgt – as above
    • 32nd LAA Rgt – as above
  • 51st AA Brigade NE Scotland
  • 52nd AA Brigade Searchlights
    • 51st S/L Rgt – as above
    • 52nd S/L Rgt – as above
    • 56th S/L Rgt – as above
  • 3rd AA Z Rgt
  • 3rd AA Divisional Signals, RCS
  • 3rd AA Divisional RASC
    • 195th and 225th Companies
  • 3rd AA Divisional Company, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • 3rd AA Divisional Workshop Company, RAOC
  • 3rd AA Divisional Radio Maintenance Company, RAOC (joined during 1941)

Mid-war

After December 1941 the division's order of battle was as follows:[62][63]

36th AA Brigade

51st AA Brigade

52nd AA Brigade

  • 51st S/L Rgt – left and became the 124th (Highland) LAA Regiment February 1942[46][56][65]
  • 52nd S/L Rgt – became the 130th (Queen's Edinburgh, Royal Scots) LAA Regiment March 1942 and remained with brigade[48][56][66]
  • 56th S/L Rgt – left and became the 125th (Cameronians) LAA Regiment in February 1942[19][56][67]
  • 147th HAA Rgtformed February 1942[56]
  • 67th LAA Rgt – joined from the 51st AA Brigade Spring 1942; left June 1942
  • 135th LAA Rgt – joined from the 36th AA Brigade Spring 1942

'Mixed' indicates that women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) were integrated into the unit.

The increased sophistication of Operations Rooms and communications was reflected in the growth in support units, which attained the following organisation by May 1942:[63]

  • 3rd AA Division Mixed Signal Unit HQ, RCS
    • HQ No 1 Company
      • 2nd AA Division Mixed Signal Office Section
      • 403rd AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section
      • 7th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
      • 8th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
      • 36th AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 203rd RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 341st AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section
      • 8th AA Line Maintenance Section
    • HQ No 2 Company
      • 51st AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 210th RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 343rd AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section
      • 52nd AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 204th RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section
      • 336th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section
      • 3342nd AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section
      • 340th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section
      • 9th AA Line Maintenance Section
  • HQ 3rd AA Div RASC
    • 192th, 255th Companies
  • 3rd AA Div Workshop Company, RAOC
  • 3rd AA Div Radio Maintenance Company, RAOC

The RAOC companies became part of the new Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) during 1942.

Disbandment

In August 1942 the Divisional HQ moved south to join I AA Corps and assist in controlling the large number of AA units brought in to defend against Luftwaffe 'hit and run' attacks on the South Coast of England.[68] It was given control of the 27th (Home Counties), 47th and 64th AA Brigades, but this lasted only for a short time, because AA Command underwent a major reorganisation at the end of September 1942, resulting in the disbandment of all the AA Divisional HQs.[53][63][69][70] In October 1942, the 3rd and th12 AA Divisional Signals re-merged to form the 6th AA Group Signals.[32]

General Officers Commanding

The commanders of the 3rd AA Division were as follows:[2][71]

  • Major-General Lancelot Hickes, from formation until 23 September 1939
  • Major-General Leslie Hill, 24 September 1939 – 13 August 1940[72]
  • Major-General Hugh Martin, 14 August–10 November 1940 (promoted to command III AA Corps)[73]
  • Major-General John Younger, 15 November 1940 (from the 4th AA Division) to 7 January 1942 (posted to Washington)[74]
  • Major-General William Wyndham Green, DSO, MC*, 7 January 1942 until disbandment (posted to the 5th AA Group)[75]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Cole p. 54
  2. ^ a b c d "3 AA Division 1939 at British Military History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  3. ^ AA Command 3 September 1939 at Patriot Files.
  4. ^ "3 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  5. ^ Litchfield, p. 310.
  6. ^ "8 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. ^ Litchfield, p. 311.
  8. ^ "9 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  9. ^ Litchfield, p. 312.
  10. ^ "102 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  11. ^ Litchfield, p. 313.
  12. ^ "71 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  13. ^ Litchfield, p. 283.
  14. ^ "94 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  15. ^ a b Litchfield, p. 300.
  16. ^ "101 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  17. ^ a b Litchfield, p. 293.
  18. ^ "74 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Litchfield, p. 290.
  20. ^ "83 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  21. ^ a b Litchfield, p. 291.
  22. ^ "100 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  23. ^ "14 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  24. ^ Litchfield, p. 299.
  25. ^ "18 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  26. ^ Litchfield, p. 292.
  27. ^ "19 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  28. ^ "31 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  29. ^ Litchfield, p. 302.
  30. ^ "32 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  31. ^ Litchfield, p. 309.
  32. ^ a b c Lord & Watson, p. 172.
  33. ^ Routledge, p. 371.
  34. ^ a b Routledge, Table LVIII, p. 376.
  35. ^ Routledge, Table LIX p. 377.
  36. ^ Routledge, p. 374.
  37. ^ Routledge, p. 375.
  38. ^ Routledge, p. 376.
  39. ^ BEF at British Military History.
  40. ^ BEF GHQ at RA 39–45. Archived 8 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Ellis, Appendix I.
  42. ^ a b "12 AA Division at British Military History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  43. ^ a b "12 AA Division at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  44. ^ Farndale, pp. 105–6.
  45. ^ 51 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45. Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ a b Litchfield, p. 274.
  47. ^ "52 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  48. ^ a b Litchfield, p. 298.
  49. ^ 56 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45. Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  50. ^ "57 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  51. ^ "3 AA Z Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  52. ^ III AA Corps at RA 39–45. Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  53. ^ a b "3 AA Division 1940 at British Military History" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  54. ^ 3 AA Division at RA 39–45.
  55. ^ Routledge, Table LXV, p. 396.
  56. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Farndale, Annex D, pp. 257–9.
  57. ^ Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 12 May 1941, with amendments, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, file WO 212/79.
  58. ^ "114 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  59. ^ "108 Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  60. ^ a b 40 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  61. ^ "67 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  62. ^ Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 2 December 1941, with amendments, TNA file WO 212/80.
  63. ^ a b c Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 14 May 1942, with amendments, TNA file WO 212/81.
  64. ^ Joslen, p. 83.
  65. ^ 124 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  66. ^ 130 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  67. ^ 125 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  68. ^ Routledge, pp. 402–3.
  69. ^ Routledge, pp. 400–1.
  70. ^ "AA Command 1940 at British Military History". Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  71. ^ Robert Palmer, 'AA Command History and Personnel' at British Military History.[permanent dead link]
  72. ^ Hill at Generals.dk.
  73. ^ Martin at Generals.dk.
  74. ^ Younger at Generals.dk.
  75. ^ Green at Generals.dk.

References

  • Cole, Howard (1973). Formation Badges of World War 2. Britain, Commonwealth and Empire. London: Arms and Armour Press.
  • Major L. F. Ellis, History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: The War in France and Flanders 1939–1940, London: HM Stationery Office, 1954.
  • General Sir Martin Farndale, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: The Years of Defeat: Europe and North Africa, 1939–1941, Woolwich: Royal Artillery Institution, 1988/London: Brasseys, 1996, ISBN 1-85753-080-2.
  • Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HM Stationery Office, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2003, ISBN 1-84342-474-6.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.
  • Cliff Lord & Graham Watson, Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920–2001) and its Antecedents, Solihull: Helion, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-92-2.
  • Brig N.W. Routledge, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914–55, London: Royal Artillery Institution/Brassey's, 1994, ISBN 978-1-85753-099-5.

External sources

  • British Generals of WWII at Generals.dk.
  • Anti-Aircraft Command (1939) at British Military History
  • Orders of Battle at Patriot Files
  • The Royal Artillery 1939–45 (archive site)
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