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3rd Anti-Aircraft Division
Active 1 September 1939–30 September 1942
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Division
Role Air Defence
Part of Anti-Aircraft Command (1939–40)
III AA Corps (1940–42)
Engagements The Blitz

The 3rd Anti-Aircraft Division was an air defence formation of Britain's Territorial Army, created in the period of tension before the outbreak of World War II. It defended Scotland and Northern Ireland during the early part of the war.

Origin[edit | edit source]

Large numbers of Territorial Army (TA) units were converted to anti-aircraft (AA) and searchlight roles in the Royal Artillery (RA) and Royal Engineers (RE) during the 1930s, and higher formations were required to control them. 3rd AA Division was the first division-level headquarters created de novo (earlier ones being converted infantry divisions). It was formed at Edinburgh on 1 September 1938 within Scottish Command, transferring to Anti-Aircraft Command when that formation was created on 1 April 1939. It was responsible for the AA defences of Scotland (except the Orkney and Shetland Defences, which had their own organisation (OSEF)) and Northern Ireland[1]

Order of Battle[edit | edit source]

The composition of 3 AA Division on the outbreak of war was as follows:[1][2]

converted 1938 from part of 4/5th Bn in central Edinburgh

    • 5th/8th Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (56th Searchlight Regiment) – converted 1938 at Glasgow
    • 5th/8th Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (57th Searchlight Regiment) – formed 1 November 1938 by duplication of above, based in south Glasgow
    • 52nd AA Bde Company RASC
  • 3 AA Divisional Signals, RCS formed in Edinburgh in 1939[31]
  • 3 AA Divisional Workshops, RAOC

War service[edit | edit source]

In November 1939, 3 AA Bde HQ and some of its units went to France with the British Expeditionary Force, defending the lines of communication.[32][33][34] 3 AA Brigade HQ returned to Northern Ireland after the Dunkirk evacuation.[35][36]

The AA regiments of the RA were designated 'Heavy AA' (HAA) from 1940 to distinguish them from the newer Light AA (LAA) units. (Prior to that, some of the Regular Army and Supplementary Reserve regiments had included both HAA and LAA batteries.) Also during 1940 all the searchlight units, whether AA battalions of the RE or still forming part of their parent infantry regiments, were transferred to the RA. The units of 52 AA Bde were therefore redesignated as follows:

  • 51st (Highland) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from January 1940[37][38]
  • 52nd (Queen's Edinburgh, Royal Scots) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from August 1940[39][40]
  • 56th (Cameronians) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from August 1940[18][41]
  • 57th (Glasgow) Searchlight Regiment, RA – from August 1940[20][42]

In September 1940, 3 AA Division formed 3 AA Z Regiment, equipped with Z Battery rocket projectiles.[43]

In November 1940, at the height of The Blitz, a new 12 AA Division was formed to take over responsibility for western Scotland and Northern Ireland while 3 AA Division retained responsibility for eastern Scotland. 3 and 42 AA Bdes were transferred from 3 AA Division to the new formation,[35][36] and 12 AA Divisional Signals was formed by expanding the Glasgow company of 3 AA Divisional Signals.[31] Both 3 and 12 AA Divisions, together with OSDEF and 7 AA Division covering northern England, formed part of a newly created III AA Corps,[44] and 3 AA Division's commander, Maj-Gen Hugh Martin, was promoted to command the new higher formation.[1]

Reorganisation[edit | edit source]

From November 1940, therefore, 3 AA Division's order of battle was as follows:[45][46]

  • 36 AA Bde Edinburgh & Forth
    • 71 HAA Rgt – as above
    • 114 HAA Rgtformed November 1940[47]
    • 31 LAA Rgt – as above
    • 32 LAA Rgt – as above
  • 52 AA Bde Searchlights
    • 51 S/L Rgt – as above; became 124 (Highland) LAA Regiment in February 1942[38][52]
    • 52 S/L Rgt – as above; became 130 (Queen's Edinurgh, Royal Scots) LAA Regiment in March 1942[40][53]
    • 56 S/L Rgt – as above; became 125th (Cameronians) LAA Regiment in February 1942[18][54]
  • 3 AA Z Rgt
  • 3 AA Divisional Signals

Disbandment[edit | edit source]

At the end of September 1942, AA Command disbanded the AA Corps and Divisions and replaced them with new AA Groups, whose areas of responsibility coincided with the Gtoups of RAF Fighter Command. 3 AA Division's responsibilities were taken over by 6 AA Group, which coincided with No. 14 Group RAF.[45][55] In October 1942, 3 and 12 AA Divisional Signals re-merged to form 6 AA Group Signals.[31]

General Officers Commanding[edit | edit source]

The commanders of 3 AA Division were as follows:[1]

  • Major-General Lancelot Hickes, from formation until 24 September 1939
  • Major-General Leslie Hill, 24 September 1939 – 14 August 1940[56]
  • Major-General Hugh Martin, 14 August–November 1940 (promoted to command III AA Corps)[57]
  • Major-General John Younger, November 1940 (from 4 AA Division) to 7 January 1942 (posted to Washington)[58]
  • Major-General William Wyndham Green, DSO, MC*, 7 January 1942 until disbandment (posted to 5 AA Group)[59]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 3 AA Division 1939 at British Military History.
  2. AA Command 3 September 1939 at Patriot Files.
  3. 3 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  4. Litchfield, p. 310.
  5. 8 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  6. Litchfield, p. 311.
  7. 9 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  8. Litchfield, p. 312.
  9. 102 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  10. Litchfield, p. 313.
  11. 71 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  12. Litchfield, p. 283.
  13. 94 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Litchfield, p. 300.
  15. 101 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Litchfield, p. 293.
  17. 74 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Litchfield, p. 290.
  19. 83 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Litchfield, p. 291.
  21. 100 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  22. 14 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  23. Litchfield, p. 299.
  24. 18 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  25. Litchfield, p. 292.
  26. 19 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  27. 31 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  28. Litchfield, p. 302.
  29. 32 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  30. Litchfield, p. 309.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Lord & Watson, p. 172.
  32. BEF at British Military History.
  33. BEF GHQ at RA 39–45.
  34. Ellis, Appendix I.
  35. 35.0 35.1 12 AA Division at British Military History.
  36. 36.0 36.1 12 AA Division at RA 39–45.
  37. 51 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Litchfield, p. 274.
  39. 52 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Litchfield, p. 298.
  41. 56 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  42. 57 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  43. 3 AA Z Rgt at RA 39–45.
  44. III AA Corps at RA 39–45.
  45. 45.0 45.1 3 AA Division 1940 at British Military History.
  46. 3 AA Division at RA 39–45.
  47. 114 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  48. 108 Rgt at RA 39–45.
  49. 40 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  50. Joslen, p. 83.
  51. 67 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  52. 124 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  53. 130 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  54. 125 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  55. AA Command 1940 at British Military History.
  56. Hill at Generals.dk.
  57. Martin at Generals.dk.
  58. Younger at Generals.dk.
  59. Green at Generals.dk.

References[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
  • Cliff Lord & Graham Watson, Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920–2001) and its Antecedents, Solihull: Helion, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-92-2.

External sources[edit | edit source]

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