12th Anti-Aircraft Division (United Kingdom)

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12th Anti-Aircraft Division
12th AA div.svg
Formation sign of the 12th Anti-Aircraft Division.[1]
Active 1 November 1940–30 September 1942
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Division
Role Air Defence
Size 3–5 Brigades
Part of III AA Corps
Garrison/HQ Glasgow
Engagements Clydebank Blitz
Belfast Blitz

The 12th Anti-Aircraft Division (12th AA Division) was an air defence formation of the British Army during the early years of World War II, it defended Western Scotland and Northern Ireland, including the period of the Clydebank Blitz and Belfast Blitz, but only had a short career.

Mobilisation[edit]

The 12th 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, the division was formed by separating responsibility for Western Scotland (particularly the industrial areas of Clydeside and Ayrshire) and Northern Ireland from the existing 3rd AA Division, which continued to be responsible for the rest of mainland Scotland.[2][3][4][5][6]

The divisional headquarters (HQ) was at Glasgow and the General Officer Commanding (GOC), appointed on 15 November 1940, was Major-General Gerald Rickards, promoted from command of 44th AA Brigade, the 12th AA Division formed part of III AA Corps.[7][8][9][10]

The Blitz[edit]

Rescue workers searching through rubble after an air raid on Belfast

The division's fighting units, organised into three AA Brigades, consisted of Heavy (HAA) and Light (LAA) gun regiments and Searchlight (S/L) regiments of the Royal Artillery (RA), the HAA guns were concentrated in the Gun Defence Areas (GDAs) at Belfast and Glasgow, LAA units were distributed to defend Vulnerable Points (VPs) such as factories and airfields, while the S/L detachments were disposed in clusters of three, spaced 10,400 yards apart.[11][12]

The approved scale of HAA guns for the Clyde had been 80 in 1939, and this was raised to 120 in 1940 and again to 144 in March 1941, but by the end of February 1941, the 12th AA Division still only had 67 guns in place, rising to 88 (11 batteries) in late March.[13]

Glasgow and Clydeside received heavy raids on the nights of 13 and 14 March 1941 (the Clydebank Blitz), and again on 7 April, while Belfast was hit on 15 April and 4 May, the Luftwaffe returned to Clydeside on 5 and 6 May, before The Blitz petered out in mid-May.[2][14][15]

Order of Battle 1940–41[edit]

The remains of HAA gunsite N9 overlooking Clydebank.

The division's composition during the Blitz was as follows:[5][6][16][17][18]

Mid-War[edit]

The remains of Drumcross HAA gunsite, built near Glasgow in 1941.

Newly formed AA units joined the division, the HAA and support units increasingly becoming 'Mixed' units, 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; in some cases they joined the 12th AA Division temporarily while they trained in Scotland; others remained with AA Command as unbrigaded units. 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 Baedeker raids.[3][39][40]

At the end of 1941 S/Ls were declustered to form 'killer zones' for night fighters, and the S/L requirement for Northern Ireland was reduced to three batteries, as a result, 91st S/L Rgt could be converted into an LAA Rgt for the field army.[39][41]

In May 1942, the 57th AA Brigade HQ was transferred to the 12th AA Division from the 7th AA Division; some units from the 42nd AA Brigade were transferred to it, together with newly formed units. In August, to deal with the Luftwaffe 's hit-and-run attacks, the 3rd AA Division's HQ was moved from Scotland to the South Coast of England and the 12th AA Division took over command of 51st AA Brigade and its units.[42]

Order of Battle 1941–42[edit]

During this period the division was composed as follows (temporary attachments omitted):[18][43][43][42][44]

The increased sophistication of Operations Rooms and communications was reflected in the growth in support units, which attained the following organisation by May 1942:[42]

  • 12th AA Division Mixed Signal Unit HQ, RCS
    • HQ No 1 Company
      • 12th AA Division Mixed Signal Office Section
      • 404th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Glasgow & Clyde)
        • 9th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 10th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 11th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 12th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 13th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 14th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
      • 42nd AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 335th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Inverkip)
      • 57th AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 63th AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 206th RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF Ayr)
      • 326th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Ardeer)
      • 327th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Stranraer)
      • 30th AA Line Maintenance Section
    • HQ No 2 Company (Northern Ireland District)
      • 410th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Northern Ireland District)
        • 30th AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
        • 31st AA Sub-Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Sub-Section
      • 3rd AA Brigade Signal Office Mixed Sub-Section
      • 207th RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF Ballyhalbert)
      • 337th AA Gun Operations Room Mixed Signal Section (Londonderry)
      • 208th RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF Eglinton)
      • 209th RAF Fighter Sector Sub-Section (RAF St Angelo)
      • 31st AA Line Maintenance Section
      • 32nd AA Line Maintenance Section
  • HQ 12th AA Division RASC
    • 36th Company
    • 195th Company (Northern Ireland District)
    • 909th Company
  • 12th AA Div RAMC
  • 12th AA Div Workshop Company, RAOC
  • 12th AA Div Radio Maintenance Company, RAOC

The RAOC companies became part of the new Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) during 1942.

Disbandment[edit]

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, the 12th AA Division amalgamated with the 3rd and the 7th AA Divisions to form the 6th AA Group, based at Edinburgh and cooperating with No. 14 Group RAF, while Northern Ireland became the 7th AA Group based at Belfast and working with No. 9 Group RAF.[3][4][5][7][39][77] Major-General Rickards retired,[9] the 12th AA Divisional Signals was amalgamated back into its parent 3rd AA Divisional Signals as the 6th AA Group (Mixed) Signals.[10][38]

General Officer Commanding[edit]

The following officer commanded 12th AA Division:[7][9]

  • Major-General Gerald Rickards (15 November 1940 – 30 September 1942)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cole p. 57
  2. ^ a b Routledge, p. 394; Map 34.
  3. ^ a b c Pile's despatch.
  4. ^ a b AA Command 1940 at British Military History
  5. ^ a b c 12 AA Division at British Military History.
  6. ^ a b 12 AA Division at RA 39–45.
  7. ^ a b c Robert Palmer, 'AA Command History and Personnel' at British Military History.
  8. ^ Farndale, Annex J.
  9. ^ a b c Rickards at Generals of WWII.
  10. ^ a b c Lord & Watson, pp. 172, 251.
  11. ^ Routledge, pp. 388-9, 393.
  12. ^ Farndale, p. 107.
  13. ^ Collier, Chapter 18.
  14. ^ Collier, Chapter 17.
  15. ^ Collier, Appendix XXX.
  16. ^ Routledge, Table LXV, p. 396.
  17. ^ Farndale, Annex D, pp. 257–9.
  18. ^ a b Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 12 May 1941, with amendments, The National Archives (TNA), Kew, file WO 212/79.
  19. ^ Litchfield, p. 313.
  20. ^ 120 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Farndale, Annex M.
  22. ^ 60 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  23. ^ 90 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  24. ^ 91 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  25. ^ a b c d e Litchfield, pp. 290–3.
  26. ^ 83 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  27. ^ 100 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  28. ^ 111 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  29. ^ 123 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  30. ^ a b 18 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  31. ^ 60 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  32. ^ 56 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  33. ^ 57 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  34. ^ Litchfield, p. 86.
  35. ^ 66 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  36. ^ 86 S/L Rgt at RA 39–45.
  37. ^ 11 AA 'Z' Rgt at RA 39–45.
  38. ^ a b Nalder, p. 621.
  39. ^ a b c Routledge, pp. 399–401.
  40. ^ Farndale, pp. 110–1.
  41. ^ 91 S/L Rgt War Diary 1941, TNA file WO 166/3111.
  42. ^ a b c 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.
  43. ^ a b 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.
  44. ^ Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 1 October 1942, TNA file WO 212/82.
  45. ^ 1 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  46. ^ 81 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  47. ^ 114 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  48. ^ Litchfield, p. 70.
  49. ^ 59 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  50. ^ Litchfield, p. 165.
  51. ^ 60 HAARgt at RA 39–45.
  52. ^ Litchfield, p. 211.
  53. ^ 73 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  54. ^ a b 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.
  55. ^ Joslen, p. 484.
  56. ^ a b Joslen, p. 488.
  57. ^ 126 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  58. ^ 130 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  59. ^ 147 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  60. ^ 170 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  61. ^ 3 AA 'Z' Rgt at RA 39–45.
  62. ^ 113 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  63. ^ 114 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  64. ^ Litchfield, p. 298.
  65. ^ 130 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  66. ^ 131 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  67. ^ 134 HAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  68. ^ 155 HAA Rgt at RA 39-45.
  69. ^ 4 AA 'Z' Rgt at RA 39–45.
  70. ^ Litchfield, p. 68.
  71. ^ 17 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  72. ^ Joslen, p. 465.
  73. ^ Routledge, p. 178.
  74. ^ 84 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  75. ^ 135 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  76. ^ 120 LAA Rgt at RA 39–45.
  77. ^ Routledge, Map 36.

References[edit]

External sources[edit]