30th (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade

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30th (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade
Active 1 November 1936–1 March 1954
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Brigade
Role Air Defence
Part of 2nd AA Division
7th AA Division
Engagements The Blitz

The 30th (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade was an air defence formation of Britain's Territorial Army from 1936 until 1955, which defended Tyneside and Sunderland during World War II.

Origins[edit]

The formation was raised as 30th (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Group on 1 November 1936 at Sunderland forming part of 2nd Anti-Aircraft Division. Its initial order of battle was as follows:[1]

  • 63rd (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade RAHAA unit formed in 1936 by conversion of 55th (Northumbrian) Medium Brigade, RA
    • HQ at Sunderland
    • 176th (Durham) AA Battery
    • 177th (Durham) AA Battery
    • 178th (Durham) AA Battery
  • 47th (The Durham Light Infantry) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, RE – Searchlight unit formed in 1936 by conversion of 7th Battalion Durham Light Infantry[2]
    • HQ at Sunderland
    • 386th AA Company
    • 387th AA Company
    • 388th AA Company
    • 389th AA Company

In 1938 the RA replaced its traditional unit designation 'Brigade' by the modern 'Regiment', which allowed the 'AA Groups' to take the more usual formation title of 'Brigades'. Anti-Aircraft Command was formed in April 1939 to control all the TA's AA units and formations. 30th AA Brigade transferred to the new 7th AA Division when that was formed in Newcastle in June 1939.[3] As AA Command continued to expand, 62nd AA Brigade and 47th Searchlight Battalion moved to other brigades in 7 AA Division and were replaced by newly formed units.

World War II[edit]

On the outbreak of war 30th AA Brigade was mobilised to defend its home area of Tyneside and Sunderland, with the following order of battle:[4]

In 1940, RA regiments equipped with 3-inch or 3.7-inch AA guns were designated Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) to distinguish them from the new Light Anti-Aircraft (LAA) regiments, and RE AA battalions were transferred to the RA and designated Searchlight regiments.

During The Blitz, 30th Anti-Aircraft Brigade comprised both HAA and LAA artillery while the searchlight units in the area were controlled by 57th Anti-Aircraft Brigade:[3][6]

  • 63 (Northumbrian) HAA Regt – as above
  • 64 (Northumbrian) HAA Regt – as above
  • 37 (Tyne Electrical Engineers) LAA Regt – duplicate of 37 AA Battalion RE (above), organised on 28 August 1939 as an LAA Regiment RA
  • 38 LAA Regt (part) – new unit raised on 28 August 1939 in North Yorkshire[7]

As the war progressed, many experienced prewar AA units were deployed overseas and replaced in Home Forces by newer units, often 'mixed' units including personnel from the Auxiliary Territorial Service or members of the Home Guard. 37 LAA Regt went first to Palestine in April 1942 and then moved on to North Africa;[3][8][9] 63 HAA Regt went to Ceylon in May 1942;[3][10][11] 38 LAA Regt went to North Africa in August 1942 [7][12][13] and 64 HAA Regt went to Tunisia in May 1943.[3][14][15]

On 30 September 1942 the AA Divisions and Corps were dissolved and a new 7th AA Group assumed responsibility for North-East England, including 30th Anti-Aircraft Brigade.[3]

Postwar[edit]

When the TA was reformed in 1947, 30th Anti-Aircraft Brigade was renumbered as 56th (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, with its HQ at Washington, Co Durham, and the following order of battle:[16][17]

654 LAA Regt was placed in suspended animation in May 1949, and 325 LAA Regt merged into another unit in January 1954. Then on 1 March 1954, 56th (Northumbrian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade HQ was disbanded at Seaburne, Sunderland.[16][2] The following year AA Command was disbanded and the air defence of the UK was reorganised. A new 30th Anti-Aircraft Brigade was formed as a TA HQ from the Regular Army's 1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based at Edenbridge, Kent. It had no connection with Northumbria and was disbanded in 1961.[16]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • 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 1843424746.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.

External sources[edit]