|9th Anti-Aircraft Division|
Formation sign of the division, emblematic of its role and number.
|Active||1 November 1940–30 September 1942|
|Part of||1 AA Corps|
9th Anti-Aircraft Division (9 AA Division) was an air defence formation of the British Army during the middle years of World War II. It defended South Wales and the Severn Valley during The Blitz but only had a short career.
Mobilisation[edit | edit source]
9th Anti-Aircraft Division was one of five new divisions created on 1 November 1940 by Anti-Aircraft Command to control the expanding anti-aircraft (AA) defences of the United Kingdom. 8 and 9 AA Divisions were formed by splitting off parts of 5 AA Division. 9 AA Division took over responsibility for South Wales, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire.
The divisional headquarters (HQ) was at Cardiff and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) was Major-General Douglas Paige, MC, who had been commander, Corps Royal Artillery, of XI Corps. The division formed part of 1 AA Corps, which was created at the same time to cover Southern England and Wales. The existing 45 AA Brigade continued to control the whole South Wales area and report to 5 AA Division until the end of 1940 while 9 AA Division and 61 AA Brigade HQs were being established.[lower-alpha 1] 61 AA Brigade finally assumed responsibility at the beginning of February 1941.
Of the formations and units assigned to the new division, a number had served with the British Expeditionary Force in the Battle of France and had been reformed and re-equipped in the Severn Valley and West Wales after the Dunkirk evacuation. The others were mainly Territorial Army units formed locally just before the outbreak of war.
The Blitz[edit | edit source]
At the time 9 AA Division was created, the towns of South Wales, including important coal and oil port facilities, refineries, steelworks and ordnance factories, were under almost nightly air attack (the Cardiff Blitz and Swansea Blitz), to which the AA defences replied as best they could. The division's fighting units, organised into three AA Brigades, consisted of Heavy (HAA) and Light (LAA) gun units and Searchlight (S/L) units of the Royal Artillery. There were major concentrations of HAA guns in the Gun Defence Areas (GDAs) at Cardiff (covering Barry, Cardiff, and Newport) and Swansea (covering Llanelli, Port Talbot, and Swansea), LAA units were distributed to defend Vulnerable Points (VPs) such as docks and Glascoed Royal Ordnance Factory, while the S/L detachments were widely spread and crossed brigade boundaries.
1st Searchlight Regiment was deployed under both 45 AA Bde and 61 AA Bde to complete the 'Illuminated Area' in South Wales. The regiment assisted the AA guns of the Cardiff and Swansea GDAs and Night fighters of No. 10 Group RAF, while the S/L detachments occasionally engaged the raiders directly with their Light machine guns (LMGs). Meanwhile, 37th (Tyne Electrical Engineers) S/L Rgt in 5 AA Bde had one battery operating the 'Cardiff–Newport Dazzle Area', others were at Hereford and Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, the latter also providing homing beacons for aircraft returning to RAF Colerne and RAF Moreton-in-Marsh. The latter batteries reported enemy air activity as 'slight' and 'small scale' during the winter of 1940–41, with one significant raid on Cheltenham on 11 December.
There was enemy air activity over the Bristol Channel and South Wales coast on most nights, but usually these were reconnaissances or nuisance raids, Heavier raids began against Cardiff and Swansea in January and February, 1941. The Luftwaffe began a new tactic of hitting the same towns on successive nights in an attempt to put them completely out of action. Swansea was the first town so attacked. On the night of 19/20 February the building housing both the Regimental HQ of 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) HAA Rgt and the Gun Operations Room (GOR) of 61 AA Bde at Swansea was destroyed by a bomb during a heavy raid. Two officers and five other ranks were killed or died of wounds, but the guns continued firing under local control and communications were maintained.
The Luftwaffe returned to continue the 'Swansea Blitz' on the nights of 20/21 and 21/22 February. On the latter night, there was confusion between the Sector Operations Room (SOR) at RAF Pembrey and the Swansea GOR, resulting in the guns ceasing fire between 20.20 and 21.10 but no night fighters arriving, leaving the town centre unprotected. Although some raiders were shot down once the restriction was lifted, the centre of Swansea was devastated, and fires and delayed-action bombs destroyed communications. The GOR had to be temporarily relocated to Neath.
By the end of February 1941, the HAA guns (3-inch and the newer 3.7-inch and 4.5-inch guns) in the Cardiff and Swansea GDAs only numbered 52 and 18 out of a planned establishment of 64 and 36 respectively. These had been increased a month later to 56 and 36, though further additions to the establishment were already being called for. The position on LAA gun sites was worse: only small numbers of Bofors 40 mm guns were available at the start of the Blitz, and most LAA detachments had to make do with LMGs.
Order of Battle 1940–41[edit | edit source]
- 5 AA Brigade – from France, covering Gloucester and Hereford
- 45 AA Brigade – from 5 AA Division, covering Cardiff and Newport
- 61 AA Brigade – formed by splitting 45 AA Bde, covering Swansea and Milford Haven
- 8th AA 'Z' Regiment – new divisional unit equipped with Z Battery rocket launchers, formed in September 1940
- 9th AA Divisional Signals, Royal Corps of Signals (RCS) – formed at Cardiff
- 9th AA Divisional Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)
- 95 Company
- 914 Company – from 10 AA Division May 1941
- 9th AA Divisional Company, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC)
- 9th AA Divisional Workshop Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC)
Mid-War[edit | edit source]
After a busy period for the AA defences of South Wales in early May 1941, the Blitz effectively ended in the middle of the month. Desultory raiding continued through June and July while the gaps in AA defences were filled as more equipment and units became available. Searchlights, now assisted by Searchlight Control (SLC) radar, were reorganised, with a 'Killer Belt' established between the Cardiff and Bristol (8 AA Division) GDAs to cooperate closely with RAF night fighters. The HAA and support units increasingly became 'Mixed', indicating that women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) were fully integrated into them. At the same time, experienced units were posted away to train for service overseas (sometimes being lent back to AA Command while awaiting embarkation). This led to a continual turnover of units, which accelerated in 1942 with the preparations for the invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) and the need to transfer AA units to counter the Luftwaffe 's Baedeker Blitz against largely unprotected towns and hit-and-run daylight attacks against South Coast towns.
In June 1942, 5 AA Bde HQ was transferred to 5 AA Division defending the South Coast and was replaced by 67 AA Bde HQ from 11 AA Division in the West Midlands. On 27 July 1942, the lights of 37 S/L Rgt were engaged during a Baedeker raid on Cheltenham.
Order of Battle 1941–42[edit | edit source]
- 5 AA Bde – to 5 AA Division June 1942
- 52nd (London) HAA Rgt – from 61 AA Bde January 1942; left AA Command February 1942; to Ceylon
- 58th (Kent) HAA Rgt – from 6 AA Division Autumn 1941; to 4 AA Division by May 1942
- 85th (Tees) HAA Rgt – to 6 AA Division Autumn 1941
- 143rd (Mixed) HAA Rgt – new unit formed January 1942; to 67 AA Bde June 1942
- 34th LAA Rgt – from 5 AA Division (formerly 61 AA Bde) March 1942; to 6 AA Division April 1942
- 47th LAA Rgt – to 8 AA Division Autumn 1941'
- 77th LAA Rgt – new unit joined Summer 1941; left AA Command February 1942; to India
- 112th (Durham Light Infantry) LAA Rgt – converted from 47th (DLI) S/L Rgt, joined before May 1942, to 61 AA Bde May 1942
- 37th (TEE) S/L/ Rgt
- 45 AA Bde
- 77th (Welsh) HAA Rgt – left UK December 1941, captured in Java March 1942
- 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) HAA Rgt – returned from 8 AA Division August 1942; then mobilised and left AA Command; later to Operation Torch
- 112th HAA Rgt – from 8 AA Division July 1941; to 61 AA Bde May 1942
- 118th HAA Rgt – new unit formed December 1940
- 20th LAA Rgt – began mobilisation as Defended Ports unit August 1941; to 3 AA Division December 1941
- 44th LAA Rgt – from 8 AA Division Autumn 1941; unbrigaded by end 1941; to India 1942
- 55th (Devon) LAA Rgt – returned from Norwegian Campaign, part of GHQ Reserve lent to AA Command; left UK November 1941, to Ceylon 1942
- 72nd LAA Rgt – from 3 AA Division before May 1942; to 8 AA Division May 1942
- 112th (DLI) LAA Rgt – from 61 AA Bde Summer 1942; later to India
- 37th (TEE) S/L Rgt – from 67 AA Bde August 1942
- 67th (Welch) S/L Rgt
- 8th AA 'Z' Rgt – to 61 AA Bde Autumn 1941; returned August 1942
- 12th AA 'Z' Rgt – from 8 AA Division June 1941; to 6 AA Division Autumn 1941
61 AA Bde
- 52nd (London) HAA Rgt – joined Summer 1941; to 5 AA Bde January 1942
- 57th (Wessex) HAA Rgt – From 11 AA Division May 1942; to Eighth Army June 1942
- 79th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) HAA Rgt – to 8 AA Division June 1942
- 112th HAA Rgt – from 45 AA Bde May 1942
- 120th HAA Rgt – new unit formed January 1941; to 1 AA Division Autumn 1941
- 138th HAA Rgt – new unit formed November 1941; to 67 AA Bde August 1942
- 34th LAA Rgt – to 5 AA Division Autumn 1941
- 50th LAA Rgt – joined June 1942
- 80th LAA Rgt – from 5 AA Division December 1941; left AA Command April 1942, later to Ninth Army
- 112nd (DLI) LAA Rgt – from 5 AA Bde May 1942; to 45 AA Bde Summer 1942
- 1st S/L Rgt – to 6 AA Division January 1942
- 77th S/L Rgt – joined by May 1941
- 8th AA 'Z' Rgt – from 45 AA Bde Autumn 1941; returned August 1942
- 67 AA Bde – from 11 AA Division June 1942
- 119th HAA Rgt – from 8 AA Division June 1942
- 138th HAA Rgt – from 61 AA Bde August 1942
- 143rd (Mixed) HAA Rgt – from 5 AA Bde June 1942
- 87th LAA Rgt – from 8 AA Division June 1942; to unbrigaded July 1942
- 135th LAA Rgt – from 8 AA Division July 1942
- 37th (TEE) S/L Rgt – from 5 AA Bde June 1942; to 45 AA Bde August 1942
The increased sophistication of Operations Rooms and communications was reflected in the growth in support units, which attained the following organisation by June 1942:
- 9 AA Division Mixed Signal Unit HQ, RCS
- HQ No 1 Company
- 9 AA Division Mixed Signal Office Section
- 314 GOR Mixed Signal Section (Gloucester)
- 67 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
- 411 GOR Mixed Signal Section (Cardiff)
- 45 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
- 338 GOR Mixed Signal Section (Swindon)
- 22 AA Line Maintenance Section
- 32 AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
- HQ No 2 Company
- 317 GOR Mixed Signal Section (Swansea)
- 61 AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
- 121 RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (Fairwood Common)
- 319 GOR Mixed Signal Section (Milford Haven)
- 23 AA Line Maintenance Section
- HQ No 1 Company
- HQ 9 AA Divisional RASC
- 95, 914 Companies
- 9 AA Divisional RAMC
- 9 AA Divisional Workshop Company, RAOC
- 9 AA Divisional Radio Maintenance Company, RAOC
- 3 AA Tractor Bty
The RAOC companies became part of the new Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) during 1942.
Disbandment[edit | edit source]
A reorganisation of AA Command in October 1942 saw the AA divisions disbanded and replaced by a smaller number of AA Groups more closely aligned with the groups of RAF Fighter Command. 9 AA Division re-merged with 5 and 8 AA Divisions into 3 AA Group based at Bristol and cooperating with No. 10 Group RAF.
General Officer Commanding[edit | edit source]
- Major-General Douglas Paige, MC (16 November 1940 – 30 September 1942, retired)
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Cole p. 56
- 9 AA Division at British Military History.
- Routledge, p. 394; Map 34.
- Pile's despatch.
- Collier, Chapter 17.
- AA Command 1940 at British Military History
- Robert Palmer, A Concise History of Anti-Aircraft Command (History and Personnel) at British Military History.
- Farndale, Annex J.
- Paige at Generals of World War II.
- Sainsbury, pp. 77–9.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 12 May 1941, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, file WO 212/79.
- 45 AA Bde War Diary 1940, The National Archives (TNA), Kew file WO 166/2285.
- Routledge, pp. 116–26.
- Farndale, p. 98.
- Sainsbury, pp. 51-71
- 79 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 85 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 1 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 37 (TEE) S/L Rgt War Diary May–June 1940, TNA file WO 167/679
- Routledge, p. 391.
- 9 AA Division at RA 39–45.
- 37 S/L Rgt War Diary August 1940–September 1941, TNA file WO 166/3054.
- Collier, Appendix XXX.
- Routledge, p. 395.
- Sainsbury, pp. 80–81.
- Sainsbury, pp. 83–4.
- Collier Chapter 18.
- Routledge, pp. 383–4, Table LXVI, p. 397, p. 398.
- Routledge, Table LXV, p. 396.
- Farndale, Annex D, pp. 257–9.
- Litchfield, p. 253.
- 88 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, pp. 166–7.
- Farndale, Annex M.
- 47 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 37 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, p. 193.
- Litchfield, p. 80.
- 77 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 20 LAA War Diary 1939–41, TNA file WO 166/2690.
- 20 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, pp. 82–3.
- 34 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, p. 83.
- 67 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, p. 82.
- Litchfield, p. 104.
- Sainsbury, p. 77.
- 8 AA Z Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Lord & Watson, p. 291.
- Routledge, pp. 398–404, Map 35.
- Sainsbury, pp. 87–90.
- Collier, Chapter 19.
- Collier, Chapter 20.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 14 May 1942, with amendments, TNA file WO 212/81.
- 37 S/L Rgt War Diary July–December 1942, TNA file WO 166/7788.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 2 December 1941, with amendments, TNA file WO 212/80.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 1 October 1942, TNA file WO 212/82.
- Joslen, p. 519.
- Litchfield, p. 164.
- 52 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, p. 107.
- 58 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 143 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Joslen, p. 525.
- 77 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 112 LAA at RA 39–45.
- Joslen, p. 558.
- Sainsbury, p.91.
- 112 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 118 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Joslen, p. 523.
- 44 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Litchfield, p. 43.
- 55 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Order of Battle of the Field Force in the United Kingdom, Part 3: Royal Artillery, 26 December 1940, with amendments, TNA files WO 212/4 and WO 33/2365.
- Order of Battle of the Field Force in the United Kingdom, Part 3: Royal Artillery (Non-Divisional Units), 25 March 1941, with amendments, TNA files WO 212/5 and WO 33/2323.
- Order of Battle of the Field Force in the United Kingdom, Part 3: Royal Artillery (Non-Divisional units), 22 October 1941, with amendments, TNA files WO 212/6 and WO 33/1883.
- Joslen, p. 524.
- 72 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Joslen, p. 526.
- Litchfield, p. 91.
- 57 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Sainsbury p. 90.
- 120 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 138 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 50 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Joslen, p. 487.
- 80 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 77 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 119 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 87 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- 135 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
- Routledge, pp. 400–1, Map 36.
References[edit | edit source]
- Cole, Howard (1973). Formation Badges of World War 2. Britain, Commonwealth and Empire. London: Arms and Armour Press.
- Basil Collier, History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: The Defence of the United Kingdom, London: HM Stationery Office, 1957.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sir Frederick Pile's despatch: 'The Anti-Aircraft Defence of the United Kingdom from 28th July, 1939, to 15th April, 1945' London Gazette 18 December 1947.
- 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.
- Col J.D. Sainsbury, The Hertfordshire Yeomanry Regiments, Royal Artillery, Part 2: The Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment 1938–1945 and the Searchlight Battery 1937–1945, Welwyn: Hertfordshire Yeomanry and Artillery Trust/Hart Books, 2003, ISBN 0-948527-06-4.
External sources[edit | edit source]
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