II Anti-Aircraft Corps (United Kingdom)
|2 Anti-Aircraft Corps|
Formation sign of II Anti-Aircraft Corps, a device from the coat of arms of the corps GOC Lieutenant-General M. F. Grove-White.
|Active||11 November 1940 – 30 September 1942|
|Part of||Anti-Aircraft Command|
II Anti-Aircraft Corps (II AA Corps) was a high-level formation of Britain's Anti-Aircraft Command from 1940 to 1942. It defended the Midlands and North West of England and Wales during the Blitz and the middle years of World War II.
AA Command had been created in 1938 to control the Territorial Army's rapidly-expanding anti-aircraft (AA) organisation within Air Defence of Great Britain. On the outbreak of war in September 1939, it commanded seven AA Divisions, each with several AA Brigades, disposed around the United Kingdom. Continued expansion made this organisation unwieldy, so in November 1940 – during the Luftwaffe's nightly Blitz on London and other British cities – five further AA Divisions were organised, and all the divisions grouped under three corps headquarters directly subordinate to AA Command. The II AA Corps covered the Midlands and North West of England and North Wales, and by February 1941 comprised four AA divisions and 14 brigades. Its boundaries roughly coincided with No. 9 Group RAF and No. 12 Group RAF of RAF Fighter Command.
Order of battle
- 32nd (Midland) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (East Midlands, sector layout)
- 40th Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Airfields, sectors)
- 41st (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (East Anglia, sectors)
- 50th Light Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Derby, Nottingham)
- 66th Anti-Aircraft Brigade formed by May 1941
- 33rd (Western) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Liverpool)
- 44th Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Manchester)
- 53rd Light Anti-Aircraft Brigade (North Midlands, sectors)
- 70th Anti-Aircraft Brigade joined in late June 1941
- 31st (North Midland) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (West Yorkshire, sectors)
- 39th Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Humber, Scunthorpe)
- 62nd Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Leeds, Sheffield)
- 70th Anti-Aircraft Brigade joined in early June 1941, then moved to 4 AA Div
- 1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Crewe, sectors) War Office reserve; left AA Command by May 1941
- 34th (South Midland) Anti-Aircraft Brigade (Birmingham, Coventry)
- 54th Anti-Aircraft Brigade (West Midlands, Gun Defence Areas, sectors)
- 67th Anti-Aircraft Brigade formed by May 1941
- 68th Anti-Aircraft Brigade formed by May 1941
Intermediate Ammunition Depots
- Rainford, St Helens
- Barlow, near Selby
- Bletchley (27 ASD; controlled by War Office)
- Weedon Ordnance Depot
Equipment Ammunition Magazines
- Paull Point, near Hull
- New Holland, Lincolnshire
- Leeds (Morley)
- Sheffield North
- Manchester (Barton)
- Liverpool (Laysbrook)
- Upton, Birkenhead
- Market Drayton, Shropshire
- Coventry (Foleshill)
- Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire
- Birmingham (Newtown)
- Derby (Findern)
As soon as it was organised, II AA Corps had to deal with the 1940–41 Blitz on industrial cities and towns such as Barrow-in-Furness, Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield. The corps was responsible for large Gun Defence Areas (GDAs) around Merseyside, Humberside and South Yorkshire, and the North and West Midlands, with 'Indicator Belts' and 'Killer Belts' of searchlights in between, the former working with the GDAs and RAF Sectors, the latter with the night fighters in the air. Redeployment was called for in 1942 when the Luftwaffe began the 'Baedeker raids' on towns and cities such as Norwich, King's Lynn and York that had previously warranted little AA defence.
The AA Corps and Divisional HQs were disbanded in October 1942 and a replaced by a more flexible system of AA Groups, each aligned with a Group of RAF Fighter Command. The area covered by II AA Corps became the responsibility of two of the new groups: 4th AA Group (North Wales and North West England) with 9 Group RAF, and 5th AA Group (North East England) with 12 Group RAF.
- Cole p. 53
- Pile's despatch.
- Routledge, p. 65.
- Farndale, p. 5.
- Robert Palmer, A Concise History of Anti-Aircraft Command (History and Personnel) at British Military History.[permanent dead link]
- Routledge, p. 394.
- Routledge, p. 394; Table LXV, p. 396.
- Farndale, Annex D, pp. 257–9.
- AA Command structure at British Military History.
- 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.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 2 December 1941, TNA file WO 212/80.
- Order of Battle of Non-Field Force Units in the United Kingdom, Part 27: AA Command, 14 May 1942, TNA file WO 212/81.
- Farndale, Annex J.
- Grove-White at Generals of World War II
- Order of Battle of the Field Force in the United Kingdom, Part 3: Royal Artillery (Non-Divisional Units), 25 March 1941, TNA file WO 212/5.
- Routledge, pp. 387–404 & Map 35.
- Routledge, p. 401 & Map 36.
- Cole, Howard (1973). Formation Badges of World War 2. Britain, Commonwealth and Empire. London: Arms and Armour Press.
- 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.
- 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
- 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