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27th (Home Counties) Anti-Aircraft Brigade
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army Territorial Army
Service history
Active 1935–1945
Role Air Defence
Part of 1st AA Division (1935–40)
5th AA Division (1940)
2nd AA Group (1944–45)
Battles The Blitz
Commanders
Insignia

27th (Home Counties) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (27 AA Bde) was an Air Defence formation of the British Army in World War II that served in The Blitz and later converted to infantry.

OriginEdit

The brigade was first organised as 27th (Home Counties) AA Group on 15 December 1935 at RAF Kenley in Surrey. 27 AA Group came under the command of 1st AA Division (formed the previous day at RAF Uxbridge), which was responsible to London District for the growing number of Territorial Army (TA) anti-aircraft gun and searchlight units around London.[1]

Order of BattleEdit

The following units comprised 27th (Home Counties) AA Group on its formation:[1]

The AA Groups took the more usual formation title of Brigades in 1938 after the Royal Artillery replaced its traditional unit designation 'Brigade' by the modern 'Regiment'.

Outbreak of warEdit

During the period of tension leading to the Munich crisis and eventually the outbreak of World War II, the Territorial Army grew enormously, and existing TA infantry battalions continued to be converted to AA regiments. The number of divisions and brigades was expanded, and the whole AA defence of the United Kingdom was taken over by Anti-Aircraft Command on 1 April 1939. When the UK declared war on 3 September 1939, 27th (Home Counties) AA Bde was a searchlight formation in 6 AA Division (also based at Uxbridge) and had the following composition:[7]

  • Brigade HQ: Lingfield, Surrey
  • 31st (City of London Rifles) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, RE (TA)
    • HQ, 324, 325, 326, 327 Companies as before
  • 34th (The Queen's Own Royal West Kent) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, RE (TA)
    • HQ, 302, 336, 337, 338 Companies as before

In August 1940, during the Battle of Britain, the RE 'Anti-Aircraft' (searchlight) battalions became regiments of the RA.[8]

The BlitzEdit

By late 1940, at the height of The Blitz, 27 AA Bde was serving in 5 AA Division covering the important naval base of Portsmouth, with the following regiments under command:[9]

  • 31 (City of London Rifles) Searchlight Regiment, RA (TA)[10]
  • 70 (Sussex) Searchlight Regiment, RA (TA)[11]

The AA Corps and Divisions were disbanded and replaced on 1 October 1942 by new AA Groups. Late in 1944, 27 AA Bde was serving in 2 AA Group, covering the Solent, South-East England and southern East Anglia.[12][13]

ConversionEdit

By the end of 1944, 21st Army Group was suffering a severe manpower shortage, particularly among the infantry.[14] At the same time the German Luftwaffe was suffering from such shortages of pilots, aircraft and fuel that serious aerial attacks on the United Kingdom could be discounted. In January 1945 the War Office began to reorganise surplus anti-aircraft and coastal artillery regiments in the UK into infantry battalions, primarily for line of communication and occupation duties in North West Europe, thereby releasing trained infantry for frontline service.[15][16]

On 22 January 1945, HQ 27 AA Bde under Brigadier H.G. Smith[17] was converted into 303rd Infantry Brigade with the following units under command:[12][18][19]

After initial infantry training, 303 Bde was sent to Norway in June 1945 as part of the liberation of that country (Operation Doomsday).[12][17][18]

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/webeasycms/hold/uploads/bmh_document_pdf/1-Anti-Aircraft-Division-1936-38-.pdf
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20051226171511/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-london/vinf/L04RF.htm
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Litchfield
  4. http://web.archive.org/web/20051227002002/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-london/vinf/L06.htm
  5. http://web.archive.org/web/20051226171532/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-london/vinf/L20QO.htm
  6. http://web.archive.org/web/20051227025213/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-london/vinf/L21Sy.htm
  7. http://www.patriotfiles.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=6697&page=1
  8. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/slidx/index.html
  9. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/home/page52.html
  10. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/sl/page11.html
  11. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/sl/page50.html
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/infidx/page3.html
  13. London Gazette
  14. Ellis, pp. 141–2.
  15. Ellis, pp. 369, 380.
  16. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/infidx/index.html
  17. 17.0 17.1 IWM papers
  18. 18.0 18.1 Joslen, p. 399.
  19. http://www.ordersofbattle.com/Units/GetUnitTypes?Filter=&SttX=2&SrvX=4&SizX=6&UntX=53
  20. http://web.archive.org/web/20051226174950/http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/volmil-london/vinf/L19StPan.htm
  21. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/sl/page13.html
  22. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/infantry/page32.html
  23. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/sl/page16.html
  24. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/infantry/page34.html
  25. http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/webeasycms/hold/uploads/bmh_document_pdf/2-Anti-Aircraft-Division-1936-38-.pdf
  26. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/sl/page18.html
  27. http://www.ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/infantry/page35.html

ReferencesEdit

  • Major L.F. Ellis, History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series: Victory in the West, Volume II: The Defeat of Germany, London: HM Stationery Office, 1968/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 1-845740-59-9.
  • Lt-Col H.F. Joslen, Orders of Battle, United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War, 1939–1945, London: HMSO, 1960/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2003, ISBN 1843424746.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992.

External sourcesEdit

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