|6th Anti-Aircraft Division|
Anti-Aircraft Command (1939–40)|
1 AA Corps (1940–42)
Battle of Britain|
The 6th Anti-Aircraft Division (6 AA Division) was an air defence formation created within Anti-Aircraft Command of Britain's Territorial Army just before World War II. It defended the Thames Estuary and the approaches to London during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.
Origin[edit | edit source]
6 AA Division was formed during 1939 to take responsibility for the air defence of the Thames Estuary, Essex and North Kent, with its HQ at Uxbridge, Middlesex. The existing 27 (Home Counties), 28 (Thames & Medway), 29 (East Anglian) and 37 AA Brigades were transferred to this new formation, together with the new formations and units of the Royal Artillery (RA) and Royal Engineers (RE) being raised as part of the expansion of the TA after the Munich Crisis.
The divisional HQ was provided by duplicating 1 AA Division's headquarter elements at RAF Uxbridge, including 1st AA Divisional Signals. The General Officer Commanding was Major-General F.G. Hyland, appointed on 30 May 1939.
The divisional badge was a red arrow piercing a black and white target on a black square.
Order of Battle[edit | edit source]
27 (Home Counties) AA Bde at Lingfield, Surrey
- 31st (City of London Rifles) AA Bn, RE – searchlight unit converted from infantry in 1935
- HQ, 324, 325, 326, 327 AA Companies
- 34th (The Queen's Own Royal West Kent) AA Bn RE – searchlight unit converted from infantry in 1935
- HQ, 302, 336, 337, 338 AA Companies
- 70th (Sussex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery – new unit raised in 1938
- 27th AA Bde Company Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)
- 55th (Kent) AA Regiment, RA
- HQ, 163 (Kent), 166 (City of Rochester) 307 and 308 AA Batteries – heavy anti-aircraft (HAA) unit formed in 1925
- 58th (Kent) AA Regiment, RA – HAA unit converted from medium artillery in 1935
- HQ, 206 (Erith), 207 (Erith) 208 (Bromley) and 264 (Dartford) AA Batteries
- 75th (Home Counties) (Cinque Ports) AA Regiment, RA – new HAA unit raised in 1938
- HQ, 223 (Cinque Ports), 233 (Kent) and 306 AA Batteries
- 89th AA Regimen, RA – new HAA unit raised in 1939
- HQ, 205 (Kent), 234 (Kent) and 235 (Kent) AA Batteries
- 28th AA Bde Company RASC
29 (East Anglian) AA Bde at South Kensington, London
- 28th (Essex) AA Bn, RE – searchlight unit formed in 1935
- HQ, 309 (Essex), 311 (Essex) and 312 (Essex) AA Companies
- 29th (Kent) AA Bn, RE – searchlight unit formed in 1935
- HQ, 313 (Kent), 314 (Kent) and 468 AA Companies
- 73rd (Kent Fortress) AA Bn, RE – searchlight unit converted from fortress engineers in 1939
- HQ, 310 (Essex), 335 and 469 AA Companies
- 29th AA Bde Company RASC
37 AA Bde at Edmonton, London
- 59th (The Essex Regiment) AA Regiment, RA – HAA unit converted from infantry in 1935
- HQ, 164, 167 and 265 AA Batteries
- 61st (Middlesex) AA Regiment, RA – HAA unit converted from infantry in 1935
- HQ, 170, 171 and 195 AA Batteries
- 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) AA Regiment, RA – HAA unit converted from field artillery in 1938
- HQ, 246 (1st Watford), 247 (2nd Watford) and 248 (Welwyn) AA Batteries
- 82nd (Essex) AA Regiment, RA – new HAA unit raised in 1937
- HQ, 156 (Barking), 193 and 256 (Barking) AA Batteries
- 90th AA Regiment, RA – new HAA unit raised in 1939
- HQ, 272, 284 and 285 AA Batteries
- 37th AA Bde Company RASC
56th Light AA Bde at Uxbridge
- 11th (City of London Yeomanry) Light AA Regiment, RA – HAA unit converted from horse artillery in 1939
- HQ, 31, 32, 33 and 43 LAA Batteries
- 12th (Finsbury Rifles) LAA Regiment, RA – LAA unit converted from HAA in 1939
- HQ, 34, 35, 36 and 44 LAA Batteries
- 16th LAA Regiment, RA – new LAA unit raised in 1938
- HQ, 45, 46, 47 and 83 LAA Batteries
- 17th LAA Regiment, RA – new LAA unit raised in 1938
- HQ, 48, 49 and 50 LAA Batteries
- 56th AA Bde Company RASC
6th AA Divisional Workshop, Royal Army Ordnance Corps
World War II[edit | edit source]
During 1940, the RE's AA Bns were transferred to the RA as Searchlight regiments, while the AA regiments were designated Heavy AA (HAA) to distinguish them from the Light AA (LAA) regiments that were being formed.
The area covered by 6 AA Division coincided with the RAF Sectors of Debden, North Weald, Hornchurch, Biggin Hill, and Kenley, being the major part of No. 11 Group RAF. The coastal boundary ran from Lowestoft in the north to Worthing in the south, while the internal boundary was that of Metropolitan London.
The HAA guns were contained in four main 'gun defended areas' (GDAs) at Harwich, Thames & Medway North (guns emplaced along the north bank of the Thames Estuary), Thames & Medway South (guns emplaced along the south bank of the Thames Estuary and defending Chatham and Rochester), and Dover (including Folkestone). The four GDAs were controlled by 'gun operations rooms' (GORs) at Felixstowe, Vange, Chatham and Dover respectively. Each GOR was linked directly to No. 11 Group Operations Room at Uxbridge. The armament of each HAA site consisted of four (sometimes two) 4.5-inch, 3.7-inch or 3-inch HAA guns.
Forty-five 'vulnerable points' (VPs) in the divisional area were defended by LAA guns: these included Air Ministry Experimental Stations, fighter aerodromes, dockyards, oil depots, magazines, and factories. The armament ranged from Bofors 40 mm, 3-inch 20 cwt, and 20 mm Hispano cannon to light machine guns (LMGs).
Searchlights were deployed in single-light stations at approximately 6000 yard spacing, with 3500 yard spacing along the coast and in the GDAs. Each searchlight site was equipped with AA LMGs.
- Dover – 18 HAA
- Thames & Medway South – 70 HAA
- Thames & Medway North – 46 HAA
- Harwich – 17 HAA
- Aerodromes – 37 HAA
- Aerodromes, vital points etc – 101 LAA + 376 AA LMGs
- 12th (Finsbury Rifles) LAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 49th LAA Regiment, RA – new unit formed 1940
- 32nd (7th City of London) Searchlight Regiment, RA – searchlight unit converted from infantry in 1935
- 33rd (St Pancras) Searchlight Regiment, RA – searchlight unit converted from infantry in 1935
28 AA Brigade covering Thames, Chatham and Dover
- 55th HAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 58th HAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 90th HAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 4th LAA Regiment, RA – converted from searchlight unit 1942
29 AA Brigade covering Kent
- 48th LAA Regiment, RA – new unit formed 1940'
- 28th (Essex) Searchlight Regiment, RA – as above
- 74th (Essex Fortress) Searchlight Regiment, RA – searchlight unit converted from fortress engineers in 1939
37 AA Brigade' covering North Thames
- 59th (The Essex Regiment) HAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 61st (Middlesex) HAA Regiment, RA – as above
- Part of 75th (Home Counties) (Cinque Ports) HAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 17th LAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 2nd LAA Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (from 1st Canadian Division)
56 AA Brigade covering Kent airfields
- 16th LAA Regiment, RA – as above
- 29th (Kent) Searchlight Regiment, RA – as above
- 73rd (Kent Fortress) Searchlight Regiment, RA – as above
A reorganisation of AA Command in October 1942 saw the AA divisions disbanded and replaced by a number of AA Groups more closely aligned with the groups of RAF Fighter Command. 6th AA Division became 2 AA Group cooperating with No. 11 Group RAF.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- 6 AA Division 1939 at British Military History
- Lord & Watson, p. 184.
- Collier Appendix IX
- 6 AA Division 1940 at RA 1939–45
- AA Command on 3 September 1939 at Patriot Files
- Collier Appendix XXIII
- 6 AA Division 1940 at British Military History
- 12 AA Z Rgt at RA 39–45
- AA Command 1940 at British Military History
References[edit | edit source]
- Basil Collier, History of the Second World War: The Defence of the United Kingdom, 
- 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.
Online sources[edit | edit source]
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