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7th Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment
103rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA
Koning Soldaat., item 60.jpg
Cap badge of the Royal Artillery
Active May 1940 – 15 April 1944
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Role Infantry
Air defence
Size Battalion
Regiment
Part of 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.

East Lancashire Regiment cap badge.

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.[1][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.[3][4]

103rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment[edit | edit source]

A Bofors 40 mm LAA gun crew under training, January 1942.

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.[1][3][5][6][7]

55th (West Lancashire) Division's formation sign.

After initial training the regiment joined Anti-Aircraft Command, but left in February 1942 before it had been allocated to a brigade.[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[11]

61st Division's formation sign

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.[11][12][13]

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.[14] 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:[6]

  • 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:[6]

Finally, RHQ and the battery HQs of 214, 235 and 292 LAA Btys began disbanding on 18 March and completed this process by 15 April 1944.[5][6]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Another source[2] 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]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Frederick, p. 187.
  2. Jolly, p. 1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Joslen, pp. 115, 365.
  4. Collier, Map 20.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Farndale, Annex M.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Frederick, pp. 805, 836.
  7. "The Regiments in World War II". http://www.lancashireinfantrymuseum.org.uk/world-war-ii-1/. Retrieved 2020-12-26. 
  8. 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.
  9. Joslen, pp. 90–1.
  10. Collier, Map 27.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Joslen, pp. 95–6.
  12. Order of Battle of the Forces in the United Kingdom, Part 2: 21 Army Group, 24 July 1943, TNA file WO 212/238.
  13. Martin, p. 17.
  14. Routledge, pp. 78, 306.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Frederick, p. 835.
  16. Joslen, p. 27.
  17. Frederick, p. 826.
  18. Joslen, p. 58.
  19. 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. 
  20. Joslen, p. 19.

References[edit | edit source]

External sources[edit | edit source]

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