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72nd (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, RA
607th (Middlesex) LAA/Searchlight Regiment, RA
[[File:The Sparrows Insignia|240x240px|frameless}}|Royal Artillery cap badge and AA patch of WWII|alt=]]
Royal Artillery cap badge and AA patch of WWII
Active 1938–1955
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army Territorial Army
Type Searchlight Regiment
Role Air Defence
Size Regiment
Garrison/HQ Heston
Twickenham
Engagements Battle of Britain
The Blitz

72nd (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery was an air defence unit of Britain's Territorial Army (TA) raised just before the outbreak of World War II, which served as part of Anti-Aircraft Command during and after the war.

OriginEdit

As the international situation deteriorated in the late 1930s, the threat of air raids on the UK led to the rapid expansion in numbers of anti-aircraft (AA) units manned by members of the part-time TA. Formed in November 1938, 72nd (Middlesex) was the third of a new group of three TA searchlight regiment raised by the Royal Artillery (previous TA S/L units had all been part of the Royal Engineers and/or converted from infantry battalions).[1] It consisted of HQ and Nos 465–467 Companies (later Batteries) based at a newly built drill hall at Vicarage Road, Heston.[2][3][4] Shortly afterwards the regiment moved to Twickenham.[3][5][6] It was equipped with the new '90 cm Projector Anti Aircraft', a smaller and lighter piece of equipment than previous searchlights, with a more powerful high current density arc lamp with automatic carbon feed.[1][7]

World War IIEdit

90cm Projector Anti-Aircraft Flickr 8616022073

90 cm Projector Anti-Aircraft, displayed at Fort Nelson, Portsmouth

Anti-Aircraft Command mobilised in August 1939, ahead of the declaration of war on 3 September, and the regiment took its place in 47th AA Brigade, part of 5th AA Division tasked with defending Southampton.[6][8][9]

Southampton was a regular target for raids by the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, but by November 1940 the regiment had transferred to 40 AA Bde in 2nd AA Division in the Midlands. It had the responsibility for covering RAF airfields in the East Midlands and continued in that role throughout the Blitz of 1940–41.[10][11][12][13]

As the threat from the Luftwaffe waned in 1944, the War Office warned in June that AA Command would have to release manpower to provide reinforcements to 21st Army Group fighting in North West Europe. The run-down began in September 1944, and 72nd S/L Rgt was placed in 'suspended animation' in that month, with its personnel being posted away.[3][5][6][14]

PostwarEdit

When the TA was reconstituted in 1947, 72nd S/L Rgt was reformed at Twickenham as 607 Searchlight Regiment, RA (Middlesex), forming part of 67 AA Bde (the former 41 AA Bde based at Shepherds Bush).[3][15][16][17][18] In 1949 the regiment's role was altered and it was redesignated 607th (Mixed) Light Anti-Aircraft/Searchlight Regiment, RA (Middlesex) ('Mixed' denoting that members of the Women's Royal Army Corps were integrated into the unit).[16][17]

AA Command was disbanded on 10 March 1955, and 607 LAA/SL Regiment was disbanded at the same time.[3][17]

NotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Brigstock. Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Monthly Army List, January 1939.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Litchfield, p. 179.
  4. Osborne, p. 134.
  5. 5.0 5.1 72 S/L Rgt at RA 39–35.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 5 AA Division 1939 at British Military History.
  7. Routledge, p. 55.
  8. AA Command 3 September 1939 at Patriot Files.
  9. Routledge, Table LVIII, p. 376; Table LX, p. 378.
  10. 2 AA Division 1940 at British Military History.
  11. 2 AA Division at RA 39–35. Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Farndale, Annex D, p. 259.
  13. Routledge, Table LXV, p. 396.
  14. Routledge, pp. 420–1.
  15. Litchfield, Appendix 5, p. 335.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Farndale, Annex M, p. 340.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 592–638 Rgts RA at British Army 1945 on.
  18. 67–106 AA Bdes at British Army 1945 on.

ReferencesEdit

  • Gen Sir Martin Farndale, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: The Years of Defeat: Europe and North Africa, 1939–1941, Woolwich: Royal Artillery Institution, 1988/London: Brasseys, 1996, ISBN 1-85753-080-2.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.
  • Mike Osborne, 20th Century Defences in Britain: The London Area, Market Deeping: Concrete Publications, 2006, ISBN 0-9540378-2-0.
  • Brig N.W. Routledge, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914–55, London: Royal Artillery Institution/Brassey's, 1994, ISBN 1-85753-099-3

External sourcesEdit

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