52nd (London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

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52nd (London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment
Active 1922–1961
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Role Air Defence
Size Regiment
Garrison/HQ Duke of York's Headquarters, Chelsea,
Ripple Lane Acton
Engagements The Blitz
Burma Campaign 1944–1945

52nd (London) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment was a volunteer air defence unit of Britain's Territorial Army from 1922 until 1961. In World War II it defended London during The Blitz and later served in the Burma Campaign.

Origin[edit]

German air raids by Zeppelin airships and Gotha bombers on London and other British cities during World War I had shown the need for strong anti-aircraft (AA) defences in any future war. When the Territorial Army (TA) was reformed in 1922 it included a number of dedicated AA units of the Royal Artillery (RA). The second of these was 52nd (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Royal Garrison Artillery, comprising 154th (London), 155th (London) and 156th (Barking) AA Batteries. The Regimental Headquarters, 154 and 155 Batteries were at the Duke of York's Headquarters in Chelsea, London, while 156 Battery was based at Empress Hall, Ripple Lane, Barking.[1][2] It formed part of 26th (London) Air Defence Brigade also headquartered at the Duke of York's Headquarters.[3]

Badge of the Royal Artillery above a door at a building of the former Duke of York's Headquarters in Chelsea, London

As Britain's AA defences expanded during the 1930s, higher formations became necessary, and the 26th AD Bde (now renamed 26th (London) AA Group), including 52nd AA Bde, was assigned to 1st AA Division organised to cover London and the Home Counties. The Royal Garrison Artillery had been absorbed into the Royal Artillery (RA) in 1924; in 1938 the RA replaced its traditional unit designation 'Brigade' by the modern 'Regiment', and the 'AA Groups' reverted to 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.[1][2][4]

By 1938, RHQ, 154 and 155 Batteries had moved from Chelsea to Artillery House, Horn Lane, in Acton, and were joined by a new 271 AA Battery based at Brentford, replacing 156 (Barking) Battery, which had become part of a new 82nd (Essex) AA Regiment[2][5]

World War II[edit]

Mobilisation[edit]

When AA Command was mobilised on 28 August 1939, 52 AA Regiment was assigned to a newly formed 49 AA Bde in London. At that time it included a new 313 AA Battery forming at Brentford; this battery later served with the Regular 4th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in West Africa[6][7][8][9]

The Blitz[edit]

3.7 inch gun in London in 1939.

In the summer of 1940, along with other AA units equipped with the older 3-inch and newer 3.7-inch AA guns, the 52nd was designated a Heavy AA Regiment.[1] By the time of the Battle of Britain and during The Blitz, 52 HAA Regt had returned to 26 AA Bde in 1 AA Division, defending London.[9][10][11]

Ceylon[edit]

In March 1942 the regiment left by sea for Ceylon, arriving at Colombo on 28 May and moving to Trincomalee a month later.[9][11][12] 154 (London) Battery was stationed with East Africa Command in November 1942,[13] and in April 1943 joined 56 (Cornwall) HAA Regt in Ceylon. In its place, 52 HAA Regt received 159 (Lloyds) Battery from 53 (City of London) HAA Regt. 52 HAA Regt came under the command of 24 AA Bde[9][11][12][14]

Burma[edit]

On 23 November 1944, 52 HAA Regt embarked again and crossed to India. It spent the whole of December travelling to Palel in Manipur on the Burmese border, where it came under Fourteenth Army.[9][11][12] During the reconquest of Burma the regiment operated around Shwebo (January 1945), Nyanungo (March 1945) and Yamethin (April 1945), under command of IV Corps, 24 AA Bde, and 3 Indian AA Bde[9][11][12]

The regiment's former 154 (London) HAA Battery had been converted into Medium Artillery (as 63 Medium Battery) in July 1944 and assigned to 87 Medium Regt. It remained in Burma when the rest of 87 Medium Regt returned to India, and on 17 August 1945 it rejoined 52 HAA Regt.[15]

Postwar[edit]

The regiment was reconstituted in the TA in 1947 as 452 (London) HAA Regiment at Acton in 67 AA Bde (the prewar 41 AA Bde). In 1954 it absorbed 454 (City of London) HAA Regiment, and the following year amalgamated with 453/488 (City of London) and 497 (Hammersmith) HAA Regiments in 33 AA Bde. The combined regiment retained the number 452, with the following organisation:[1][2][16]

  • RHQ Battery – from 453/488 HAA
  • P (Middlesex) Battery – from 452 HAA
  • Q (Lloyds City of London Battery) – from 454 HAA
  • R (Hammersmith) Battery – from 497 HAA

In 1961 the regiment amalgamated again with 264 (7th London) Field Regiment, 290 (City of London) Field Regiment and 353 (London) Medium Regiment to form 254 (City of London) Field Regiment, when the 52nd Anti-Aircraft lineage ended.[1][16]

Honorary Colonel[edit]

The motor manufacturer and philanthropist William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield was appointed Honorary Colonel of 52 (London) AA Regiment on 4 June 1937 and continued that role with 452 HAA Regiment.[5][17]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 100th Edn, London, 1953.
  • 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]