36th (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery

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36th (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, RA
Active 1936–1 May 1961
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Searchlight Regiment, Infantry Battalion, Anti-Aircraft Regiment
Role Air Defence
36th (Middlesex) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers and 634th (Middlesex) Infantry Regiment, Royal Artillery redirect here

The 36th (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment was a volunteer air defence unit of Britain's Territorial Army (TA) from 1936 until 1961, at first as part of the Royal Engineers, later in the Royal Artillery.

Origin[edit]

The regiment has its origins in 317 (Middlesex) Independent Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company, one of a number of air defence companies of the Royal Engineers formed in the Home counties by the Territorial Army during 1924. 317 Company, based at Hendon, was grouped with two companies from Kent to form the Kent & Middlesex Group.[1] John (later Sir John) Perring (1870–1948), a businessman and prominent member of the London County Council and Middlesex Territorial Association was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Group in 1931.[1][2][3]

In 1936, 317 Company was separated from the Kent & Middlesex Group and expanded into a full battalion, the 36th (Middlesex) Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Royal Engineers (TA). The battalion raised three new companies (344, 345 and 346), and formed part of 29th (East Anglian) Anti-Aircraft Brigade. Sir John Perring was reappointed Honorary Colonel of the new unit.[1][4]

Towards the end of 1938, 344 AA Company, based at Harrow, was detached to form the cadre for a duplicate unit, which became 58th (Middlesex) AA Bn, RE.[5]

World War II[edit]

By the outbreak of war the 36th (Middlesex) battalion had moved to Edgware, forming part of 40th Anti-Aircraft Brigade, and an additional company had been raised, giving it the following organisation:[6][7][8]

  • HQ (Edgware)
  • 317 AA Company (Edgware)
  • 345 AA Company (Edgware)
  • 346 AA Company (Southall)
  • 424 AA Company (forming)

In common with other RE searchlight battalions, the unit was transferred to Royal Artillery in August 1940, becoming 36th (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment RA (TA), and the companies were termed batteries.[8][9] At this time Anti-Aircraft Command was heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain, in which 40th AA Bde was responsible for guarding airfields in East Anglia. This was soon followed by the night-bombing campaign of The Blitz, in which searchlights were a key element in the defences.[10][8][11]

By the end of 1944, however, the German Luftwaffe was suffering from such shortages of pilots, aircraft and fuel that serious aerial attacks on the United Kingdom could be discounted. At the same time 21st Army Group fighting in North West Europe was suffering a severe manpower shortage, particularly among the infantry.[12] In January 1945 the War Office began to reorganise surplus anti-aircraft and coastal artillery regiments in the UK into infantry battalions, primarily for line of communication and occupation duties, thereby releasing trained infantry for frontline service.[13][14] 27th (Home Counties) Anti-Aircraft Brigade was one of the HQs selected for conversion, becoming 303rd Infantry Brigade on 22 January 1945. Within the brigade, 36 Searchlight Regiment was redesignated 634th (Middlesex) Infantry Regiment RA.[9] [8][15][16][4]

After infantry training, including a short period attached to 61st Infantry Division, 634 Regiment was sent to Norway in June 1945 following the liberation of that country (Operation Doomsday).[9][15][16]

Postwar[edit]

In 1947 the regiment was reconstituted in the TA as 571st Searchlight Regiment RA (Middlesex) at Edgware. Two years later it was redesignated 571st (Mixed) Light Anti-Aircraft/Searchlight Regiment (Middlesex), ('Mixed' indicating that it was composed partly of women of the Women's Royal Army Corps). The regiment formed part of 82nd Anti-Aircraft Brigade.[9][17]

In 1955 Anti-Aircraft Command was disbanded, and many of its TA regiments were disbanded or reduced. The 571st was amalgamated with two other LAA/SL regiments in NW London – 595th (9th Battalion Middlesex Regiment) and 604th (Royal Fusiliers) – to form a new regiment: 571st Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RA, (9th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment, Duke of Cambridge's Own), in which the old 571st formed 'P' Battery. The new unit was in 33rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade[9][17][18][19]

Finally, on 1 May 1961, the 571st (9th Middlesex) amalgamated with the 7th and 8th Middlesex Regiment to form a combined infantry battalion, and all links with air defence and the Royal Artillery were severed.[9][17][18]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Major L.F. Ellis, "History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series: Victory in the West", Vol II: "The Defeat of Germany", London: HM Stationery Office, 1968/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 1-845740-59-9.
  • 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.
  • Who Was Who 1941–50.

External sources[edit]