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37th Anti-Aircraft Brigade
63rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade
Active 1938–1967
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Brigade
Role Air Defence
Part of 6th AA Division
1 AA Group
Garrison/HQ Edmonton
Shepherd's Bush
Engagements The Blitz

The 37th Anti-Aircraft Brigade was an air defence formation of Britain's Territorial Army (TA) formed just before the outbreak of World War II. It was engaged in defending the Thames Estuary during the war, and continued to form part of Anti-Aircraft Command in the postwar era.

Origin[]

As international tensions rose in the late 1930s, Britain's Anti-Aircraft (AA) defences were strengthened with new Royal Artillery (RA) regiments. 37th AA Brigade was raised on 1 May 1938, with its HQ at Edmonton in North London, to control some of these AA units in the London area. In 1939 it joined the newly formed 6th AA Division based at Uxbridge, which had responsibility for air defence of the Thames Estuary, Essex and North Kent, and the approaches to London. On formation it had the following composition:[1]

  • 61st (Middlesex) AA Regiment, RAconverted in 1935 from 11th Bn London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles)[4][5]
    • HQ at Pentonville
    • 170th Anti-Aircraft Battery at Finchley
    • 171st Anti-Aircraft Battery at Pentonville
    • 195th Anti-Aircraft Battery at Finchley – newly-raised before 3 September 1939
  • 82nd (Essex) AA Regiment, RAraised in 1938[8][9]
    • HQ at Barking
    • 156th (Barking) Anti-Aircraft Battery – transferred from 52nd (London) AA Regiment, RA
    • 193rd Anti-Aircraft Battery at Leigh-on-Sea –transferred from 59th (Essex) AA Regiment
    • 256th (Barking) Anti-Aircraft Battery – newly raised before 3 September 1939

World War II[]

Mobilisation[]

Anti-Aircraft Command, which had been formed within the Territorial Army earlier in the year, mobilised in late August 1939 and was at its stations before war was declared on 3 September. By then, a further newly formed regiment had been added to 37th AA Bde's order of battle:[10]

  • 90th AA Regiment, RA[5][11]
    • HQ at Southgate, London
    • 272nd Anti-Aircraft Battery
    • 284th Anti-Aircraft Battery
    • 285th Anti-Aircraft Battery

In November 1939, 79th (Herts Yeomanry) AA Rgt was detached from the brigade and joined 3rd AA Bde on the lines of communication for the British Expeditionary Force in France. After the Dunkirk Evacuation the regiment was assigned to a different formation in the UK.[6][7][12][13]

In April 1940, 82nd (Essex) AA Rgt was detached from the brigade and served in the Norway Campaign; after evacuation from Norway it was sent to join the garrison of Gibraltar.[8][9][14][15]

In the summer of 1940, all the RA units equipped with the older 3-inch or newer 3.7-inch AA guns were designated as Heavy AA (HAA) regiments to distinguish them from the newer Light AA (LAA) regiments appearing in the order of battle.

Battle of Britain[]

The Battle of Britain and the subsequent London Blitz saw 37 AA Bde responsible for defending the north side of the Thames Estuary, wit the following order of battle.[16][17]

  • 59 HAA Rgt – as above
  • 61 HAA Rgt – as above
  • 75th (Home Counties) (Cinque Ports) HAA Rgt, RA (part) – converted in 1938 from 59th (Home Counties) (Cinque Ports) Field Rgt, RA[18][19]
    • HQ
    • 223rd (Kent) HAA Battery
    • 224th (Cinque Ports) HAA Battery
    • 306th HAA Battery
  • 17th LAA Rgt, RA[20][21]
    • HQ at Chelsea, London
    • 48th LAA Battery at Chelsea
    • 49th LAA Battery at Purfleet
    • 50th LAA Battery at Shellhaven

Home Defence[]

37th AA Brigade remained in the UK on Home Defence for the rest of the war. Its original units were posted overseas on active service in 1942 and the gunsites were operated by other units, many of them 'Mixed' regiments, some of whose personnel were women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In October 1942, the AA divisions were disbanded, and 37th AA Bde came under the command of 1st AA Group covering London.

Postwar[]

When the TA was reconstituted in 1947, 37 AA Bde was reorganised as 63 AA Brigade, with its HQ at London NW1 (still in 1 AA Group), with the following composition:[22][23]

  • 461 (Mobile) HAA Rgt (Middlesex) – the former 61st (Middlesex) HAA Rgt, see above[5][24]
  • 490 (Mixed) HAA (Middlesex) the former 90th HAA Rgt, see above[5][25]

When AA Command was disbanded in 1955, all of 63 AA Bde's units were also disbanded, but the brigade HQ was retained, first designated as X AA Bde, then redesignated as 33 AA Bde, with its HQ at Shepherd's Bush. It had no connection with the wartime 33rd (Western) AA Bde based on Merseyside, but had the following composition:[26]

  • 452 (London) HAA Rgt – the former 52nd (London) HAA Rgt[24][27]
  • 459 (Essex) HAA Rgt – the former 59th (Essex Regiment) HAA Rgt, see above'[3][24]
  • 512 (Finsbury Rifles) LAA Rgt – descended from the former 61st (Middlesex) HAA Rgt', see above[25][30]
  • 517 (Essex) LAA Rgt – the former 17th LAA Rgt, see above'[21]

It may have formed part of London District. On 1 May 1961, 33 AA Bde was amalgamated with HQ 56th (London) Infantry Division as 33 Artillery Brigade. It was disbanded when the TA was reduced in 1967.[26]

Memorial[]

There is a memorial to 37 AA Bde at St Augustine's Church, Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea, which reads:[33]

TO COMMEMORATE/ THE ASSOCIATION WITH THIS CHURCH OF THE/ OFFICERS, NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND/ OTHER RANKS OF THE ROYAL REGIMENT OF/ ARTILLERY AND THE AUXILIARY TERRITORIAL/ SERVICE FROM THE GUNSITE NEARBY WHICH WAS/ MANNED CONTINUOUSLY BY PERSONNEL FROM/ THE 37TH ANTI-AIRCRAFT BRIGADE THROUGHOUT/ THE WORLD WAR 1939 - 1945

Notes[]

References[]

  • 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.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.

External Sources[]

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