|7th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment|
103rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA
Cap badge of the Royal Artillery
|Active||May 1940 – 15 April 1944|
55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division|
61st Infantry Division
The 103rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, (103rd LAA Rgt) was an air defence unit of the British Army during World War II. Initially raised as an infantry battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment in 1940, it transferred to the Royal Artillery in 1941. It served in Northern England and Northern Ireland but saw no active service. Shortly before D Day, it was broken up to reinforce other units that fought in the campaign in North West Europe.
7th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment[edit | edit source]
- Not to be confused with 7th (Service) Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, formed in World War I
The unit was originally formed in May 1940 as 50th Holding Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, as part of the rapid expansion of the Army with wartime conscripts. It converted to a normal infantry battalion in July that year as 7th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment.[lower-alpha 1]
On 20 October it joined 202nd Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) which was being organised by No 2 Infantry Training Group as a static defence formation in Northumbrian Area. The brigade became part of Northumberland County Division when that formation became operational in X Corps on 24 February 1941.
103rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment[edit | edit source]
7th East Lancashires left 202nd Bde on 18 November 1941 and transferred to the Royal Artillery (RA) to begin retraining in the light anti-aircraft (LAA) role, equipped with Bofors 40 mm guns: on 1 December it became 103rd LAA Regiment with 339–341 LAA Batteries.
After initial training the regiment joined Anti-Aircraft Command, but left in February 1942 before it had been allocated to a brigade. It was assigned to 55th (West Lancashire) Infantry Division on 4 February 1942. The 55th was a prewar Territorial Army (TA) division that had just been placed of a lower establishment as a home defence and training formation in Northern Command.
103rd LAA Rgt left 55th (West Lancs) Division on 30 November 1942 and joined 61st Infantry Division, a second line TA formation serving in Northern Ireland. The division returned to England in February 1943, serving successively in XI Corps District in Essex (February to May), and then II Corps District in East Anglia.
In May 1943 the division was assigned to 21st Army Group for the planned Allied invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord). It was to have had an assault role alongside 15th (Scottish) and 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Divisions. However, although it participated in exercises with the assault forces, it was later relegated to providing reinforcements. The division moved to South-Eastern Command in October 1943, on anti-invasion duty in Kent.
Disbandment[edit | edit source]
In early 1944 it was decided to increase the war establishment of the LAA regiments of the armoured and infantry divisions assigned to Overlord, particularly to man the multiple-barrelled 20 mm guns (usually Oerlikons or Polstens) that were being added to some regiments. 103rd LAA Regiment was broken up to provide some of the additional personnel. In the first phase, on 23 February, the regiment's Troops were individually numbered:
- A, B and C Trps of 339 LAA Bty became 57, 58 and 59 Trps
- D, E and F Trps of 340 LAA Bty became 60, 70 and 71 Trps
- G, H and I Trps of 341 LAA Bty became 72, 73 and 74 Trps
In the second phase, on 14 March, these Troops were transferred to other regiments:
- 57, 58 and 59 Trps went to 172, 173 and 174 LAA Btys of 58th (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) LAA Rgt in 11th Armoured Division
- 60, 70 and 71 Trps went to 390, 391 and 392 LAA Btys of 119th LAA Rgt in 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, as X, Y and Z 20 mm Trps
- 72, 73 and 74 Trps went to 1, 41 and 42 LAA Btys of 15th (Isle of Man) LAA Rgt in 7th Armoured Division
All three divisions landed in Normandy and fought through the campaign in North West Europe.
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- Another source states that 50th Holding Bn was formed from a company of a Mixed Holding Battalion at Huyton, near Liverpool, to which a draft of veterans from the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was added after the Fall of France, and that the battalion became the 8th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment (later 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps). The likelihood is that both the 7th and 8th Bns originated from the same pool of men in 50th Holding Bn.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Frederick, p. 187.
- Jolly, p. 1.
- Joslen, pp. 115, 365.
- Collier, Map 20.
- Farndale, Annex M.
- Frederick, pp. 805, 836.
- "The Regiments in World War II". http://www.lancashireinfantrymuseum.org.uk/world-war-ii-1/. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 2 December 1941, with amendments, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, file WO 212/80.
- Joslen, pp. 90–1.
- Collier, Map 27.
- Joslen, pp. 95–6.
- Order of Battle of the Forces in the United Kingdom, Part 2: 21 Army Group, 24 July 1943, TNA file WO 212/238.
- Martin, p. 17.
- Routledge, pp. 78, 306.
- Frederick, p. 835.
- Joslen, p. 27.
- Frederick, p. 826.
- Joslen, p. 58.
- LT COL J.F. Young RA (August 1944). "WAR DIARY #124; Unit 119 Laa Regt RA". https://4fb34fa8-7108-4882-a984-2cf1870b632e.filesusr.com/ugd/29af12_2f338f316bd94a26a76460bc05a215a0.pdf. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
- Joslen, p. 19.
References[edit | edit source]
- Basil Collier, History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: The Defence of the United Kingdom, London: HM Stationery Office, 1957/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004 ISBN 978-1-84574-055-9.
- Gen 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.
- J.B.M. Frederick, Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660–1978, Vol I, Wakefield: Microform Academic, 1984, ISBN 1-85117-007-3.
- J.B.M. Frederick, Lineage Book of British Land Forces 1660–1978, Vol II, Wakefield: Microform Academic, 1984, ISBN 1-85117-009-X.
- Alan Jolly, Blue Flash: The Story of an Armoured Regiment, London 1952.
- 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 1-843424-74-6.
- Lt-Gen H.G. Martin, The History of the Fifteenth Scottish Division 1939–1945, Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1948/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1-78331-085-2.
- Brig N.W. Routledge, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914–55, London: Royal Artillery Institution/Brassey's, 1994, ISBN 1-85753-099-3.
External sources[edit | edit source]
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