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134th (Mixed) HAA Regiment, RA
Koning Soldaat., item 60.jpg
Royal Artillery cap badge
Active 22 September 1941–3 October 1955
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Role Air defence
Size Regiment (3–4 batteries)
Part of Anti-Aircraft Command
Engagements Air defence of the West Midlands

134th (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment was an air defence unit of Britain's Royal Artillery formed during World War II. It was one of the first 'Mixed' regiments in which women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service were integrated into the unit's personnel. It defended Birmingham and that portion of the West Midlands before being disbanded in 1955 following the disbandment of Anti-Aircraft Command (AA Command).

Organisation[edit | edit source]

Auxiliary Territorial Service cap badge

By 1941, after two years of war Anti-Aircraft Command, tasked with defending the UK against air attack, was suffering a manpower shortage. In April its commander-in-chief, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick 'Tim' Pile, proposed to overcome this by utilising the women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). The ATS was by law a non-combatant service, but it was decided that Defence Regulations permitted the employment of women in anti-aircraft (AA) roles other than actually firing the guns. They worked the radar and plotting instruments, range-finders and predictors, ran command posts and communications, and carried out many other duties. With the increasing automation of heavy AA (HAA) guns, including gun-laying, fuze-setting and ammunition loading under remote control from the predictor, the question of who actually fired the gun became blurred as the war progressed. The ATS rank and file, if not always their officers, took to the new role with enthusiasm and 'Mixed' batteries and regiments with the ATS supplying two-thirds of their personnel quickly proved a success.[1][2][3][4]

An ATS member of a mixed 3.7-inch HAA gun battery, December 1942, wearing the 1st AA Division shoulder patch.

The first of these new units, 435 (Mixed) HAA Battery, took over an operational gun site in Richmond Park, south-west London, in August 1941, and a full regiment of converted batteries soon followed. The next group of mixed regiments was formed on 22 September 1941, including 134th (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, whose regimental headquarters formed in Kings Heath, Birmingham.[5] It was then joined by the following batteries:[3][5][6]

  • Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) formed on 22 September 1941 in Kings Heath, Birmingham
  • 456 (M) HAA Bty formed on 10 July 1941 from 205th HAA Training Rgt, Arborfield, from a cadre provided by the 91st HAA Regt, became mixed on 27 August 1941, and regimented with 134th (M) HAA Rgt on 20 October.
  • 459 (M) HAA Bty formed on 10 July 1941 from 209th HAA Training Rgt, Blandford Camp from cadre provided by 106th HAA Rgt, became mixed on 27 August and was regimented with 134th (M) HAA Rgt on 20 October
  • 460 (M) HAA Bty formed on 10 July 1941 from 210th HAA Training Rgt, Oswestry, from cadre provided by 111th HAA Regt, became mixed on 20 August and was regimented with 134th (M) HAA Rgt on 13 October
  • 461 (M) HAA Bty formed on 10 July 1941 from 211th HAA Training Regiment, Oswestry, from cadre provided by 81st (Cheshire) HAA Rgt, became mixed on 20 August and was regimented with 134th (M) HAA Rgt on 13 October

Deployment[edit | edit source]

Formation sign of the 11th AA Div.

The new regiment was assigned to 34th (South Midland) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, part of the 11th Anti-Aircraft Division operating the West Midlands and Wales inner AA defence zone.

On 3 June 1942 the regiment provided a cadre to the 209th HAA Training Rgt based at Blandford Camp to form 559 HAA Bty but this formation was cancelled on 14 May. That same day, the regiment provided another cadre to the 210th HAA Training Rgt based in Oswestry to form 559 HAA Bty which was regimented into 168th HAA Rgt on 15 August 1942.[6][7]

On 15 August 1942 456 (M) HAA Bty left the regiment to join the 168th (M) HAA Rgt, so on 29 July, a cadre was provided by 126th HAA Rgt to the 207th Training Rgt in Devizes, and regimented into the 134th (M) HAA Rgt on 19 October but later disbanded on 8 January 1945.[5][6]

On 10 August 1945 the regiment was re-organised as the 134th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (TA) losing their ATS personnel, which made them no longer mixed. Eventually on 1 January 1947 the regiment was re-designated as the 93rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery with the batteries being redesignated as 268, 269, and 270 HAA Btys respectively. The regiment was then renamed as the 493rd (Mixed) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (TA) and based in Birkenhead, Cheshire under the 59th AA Brigade (TA). When AA Command was disbanded on 3 October 1955, the regiment was amalgamated with the 349th LAA Rgt and 576th (M) LAA/SL Rgt to form the 441st Light Anti-Aircraft/Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.[5][8][9]

Insignia[edit | edit source]

Brass collar badge of the Royal Artillery

While the male members of the regiment wore the Royal Artillery's 'gun' cap badge, the women wore the ATS cap badge, but in addition they wore the RA's 'grenade' collar badge as a special badge above the left breast pocket of the tunic. Both sexes wore the white RA lanyard on the right shoulder.[10]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Pile's despatch.
  2. Collier, Chapter XVII.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Routledge, pp. 399–400.
  4. Routledge, pp. 338, 407.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Frederick, p. 785.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Frederick, p. 759-63.
  7. Frederick, p. 793.
  8. Litchefield, p. 32.
  9. Frederick, p. 1018.
  10. Sainsbury, Plate 9, p. 7.

References[edit | edit source]

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