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12th Anti-Aircraft Division
12th AA div.svg
Formation sign of the 12th Anti-Aircraft Division.[1]
Active 1 November 1940–30 September 1942
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Division
Role Air Defence
Size 3–5 Brigades
Part of 3 AA Corps
Garrison/HQ Glasgow
Engagements Clydebank Blitz
Belfast Blitz

12th Anti-Aircraft Division (12 AA Division) was an air defence formation of the British Army during the early years of World War II. It defended Western Scotland and Northern Ireland, including the period of the Clydebank Blitz and Belfast Blitz, but only had a short career.

Mobilisation[edit | edit source]

12 Anti-Aircraft Division was one of five new divisions created on 1 November 1940 by Anti-Aircraft Command to control the expanding anti-aircraft (AA) defences of the United Kingdom. The division was formed by separating responsibility for Western Scotland (particularly the industrial areas of Clydeside and Ayrshire) and Northern Ireland from the existing 3 AA Division, which continued to be responsible for the rest of mainland Scotland.[2][3][4][5][6]

The divisional headquarters (HQ) was at Glasgow and the General Officer Commanding (GOC), appointed on 15 November 1940, was Major-General Gerald Rickards, promoted from command of 44 AA Bde. 12 AA Division formed part of 3 AA Corps.[7][8][9][10]

The Blitz[edit | edit source]

Rescue workers searching through rubble after an air raid on Belfast

The division's fighting units, organised into three AA Brigades, consisted of Heavy (HAA) and Light (LAA) gun regiments and Searchlight (S/L) regiments of the Royal Artillery (RA). The HAA guns were concentrated in the Gun Defence Areas (GDAs) at Belfast and Glasgow, LAA units were distributed to defend Vulnerable Points (VPs) such as factories and airfields, while the S/L detachments were disposed in clusters of three, spaced 10,400 yards apart.[11][12]

The approved scale of HAA guns for the Clyde had been 80 in 1939, and this was raised to 120 in 1940 and again to 144 in March 1941, but by the end of February 1941, 12 AA Division still only had 67 guns in place, rising to 88 (11 batteries) in late March.[13]

Glasgow and Clydeside received heavy raids on the nights of 13 and 14 March 1941 (the Clydebank Blitz), and again on 7 April, while Belfast was hit on 15 April and 4 May. The Luftwaffe returned to Clydeside on 5 and 6 May, before The Blitz petered out in mid-May.[2][14][15]

Order of Battle 1940–41[edit | edit source]

The remains of HAA gunsite N9 overlooking Clydebank.

The division's composition during the Blitz was as follows:[5][6][16][17][18]

Mid-War[edit | edit source]

The remains of Drumcross HAA gunsite, built near Glasgow in 1941.

Newly formed AA units joined the division, the HAA and support units increasingly becoming 'Mixed' units, indicating that women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) were fully integrated into them. At the same time, experienced units were posted away to train for service overseas; in some cases they joined 12 AA Division temporarily while they trained in Scotland; others remained with AA Command as unbrigaded units. This led to a continual turnover of units, which accelerated in 1942 with the preparations for the invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) and the need to transfer AA units to counter the Baedeker raids.[3][39][40]

At the end of 1941 S/Ls were declustered to form 'killer zones' for night fighters, and the S/L requirement for Northern Ireland was reduced to three batteries. As a result, 91st S/L Rgt could be converted into an LAA Rgt for the field army.[39][41]

In May 1942, 57th AA Bde HQ was transferred to 12 AA Division from 7 AA Division; some units from 42 AA Bde were transferred to it, together with newly formed units. In August, to deal with the Luftwaffe 's hit-and-run attacks, 3 AA Division HQ was moved from Scotland to the South Coast of England and 12 AA Division took over command of 51 AA Bde and its units.[42]

Order of Battle 1941–42[edit | edit source]

During this period the division was composed as follows (temporary attachments omitted):[18][42][43][43][44]

The increased sophistication of Operations Rooms and communications was reflected in the growth in support units, which attained the following organisation by May 1942:[42]

  • 12 AA Division Mixed Signal Unit HQ, RCS
    • HQ No 1 Company
      • 12 AA Division Mixed Signal Office Section
      • 404 AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Glasgow & Clyde)
        • 9 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 10 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 11 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 12 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 13 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 14 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
      • 42 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 335 AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Inverkip)
      • 57 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 63 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 206 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF Ayr)
      • 326 AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Ardeer)
      • 327 AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Stranraer)
      • 30 AA Line Maintenance Section
    • HQ No 2 Company (Northern Ireland District)
      • 410 AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Northern Ireland District)
        • 30 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 31 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
      • 3 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 207 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF Ballyhalbert)
      • 337 AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Londonderry)
      • 208 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF Eglinton)
      • 209 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF St Angelo)
      • 31 AA Line Maintenance Section
      • 32 AA Line Maintenance Section
  • HQ 12 AA Div RASC
    • 36 Company
    • 195 Company (Northern Ireland District)
    • 909 Company
  • 12 AA Div RAMC
  • 12 AA Div Workshop Company, RAOC
  • 12 AA Div Radio Maintenance Company, RAOC

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

Disbandment[edit | edit source]

A reorganisation of AA Command in October 1942 saw the AA divisions disbanded and replaced by a smaller number of AA Groups more closely aligned with the groups of RAF Fighter Command. 12 AA Division amalgamated with 3 and 7 AA Divisions to form 6 AA Group, based at Edinburgh and cooperating with No. 14 Group RAF, while Northern Ireland became 7 AA Group based at Belfast and working with No. 9 Group RAF.[3][4][5][7][39][77] Major-General Rickards retired.[9] 12 AA Divisional Signals was amalgamated back into its parent 3 AA Divisional Signals as 6 AA Group (Mixed) Signals.[10][38]

General Officer Commanding[edit | edit source]

The following officer commanded 12th AA Division:[7][9]

  • Major-General Gerald Rickards (15 November 1940 – 30 September 1942)

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Cole p. 57
  2. 2.0 2.1 Routledge, p. 394; Map 34.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pile's despatch.
  4. 4.0 4.1 AA Command 1940 at British Military History
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 12 AA Division at British Military History.
  6. 6.0 6.1 12 AA Division at RA 39–45.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Robert Palmer, 'AA Command History and Personnel' at British Military History.
  8. Farndale, Annex J.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Rickards at Generals of WWII.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Lord & Watson, pp. 172, 251.
  11. Routledge, pp. 388-9, 393.
  12. Farndale, p. 107.
  13. Collier, Chapter 18.
  14. Collier, Chapter 17.
  15. Collier, Appendix XXX.
  16. Routledge, Table LXV, p. 396.
  17. Farndale, Annex D, pp. 257–9.
  18. 18.0 18.1 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.
  19. Litchfield, p. 313.
  20. 120 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  21. 21.00 21.01 21.02 21.03 21.04 21.05 21.06 21.07 21.08 21.09 21.10 21.11 21.12 21.13 21.14 Farndale, Annex M.
  22. 60 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  23. 90 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  24. 91 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Litchfield, pp. 290–3.
  26. 83 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  27. 100 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  28. 111 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  29. 123 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  30. 30.0 30.1 18 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  31. 60 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  32. 56 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  33. 57 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  34. Litchfield, p. 86.
  35. 66 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  36. 86 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  37. 11 AA 'Z' Rgt at RA 39–45.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Nalder, p. 621.
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Routledge, pp. 399–401.
  40. Farndale, pp. 110–1.
  41. 91 S/L Rgt War Diary 1941, TNA file WO 166/3111.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 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.
  43. 43.0 43.1 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.
  44. Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 1 October 1942, TNA file WO 212/82.
  45. 1 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  46. 81 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  47. 114 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  48. Litchfield, p. 70.
  49. 59 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  50. Litchfield, p. 165.
  51. 60 HAARgt at RA 39–45.
  52. Litchfield, p. 211.
  53. 73 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  54. 54.0 54.1 Order of Battle of the Field Force in the United Kingdom, Part 3: Royal Artillery (Non-Divisional Units), 25 March 1941, with amendments, TNA files WO 212/5 and WO 33/2323.
  55. Joslen, p. 484.
  56. 56.0 56.1 Joslen, p. 488.
  57. 126 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  58. 130 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  59. 147 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  60. 170 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  61. 3 AA 'Z' Rgt at RA 39–45.
  62. 113 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  63. 114 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  64. Litchfield, p. 298.
  65. 130 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  66. 131 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  67. 134 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  68. 155 HAA Rgt at RA 39-45.
  69. 4 AA 'Z' Rgt at RA 39–45.
  70. Litchfield, p. 68.
  71. 17 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  72. Joslen, p. 465.
  73. Routledge, p. 178.
  74. 84 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  75. 135 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  76. 120 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  77. Routledge, Map 36.

References[edit | edit source]

External sources[edit | edit source]


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