2nd Anti-Aircraft Division (United Kingdom)

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2nd Anti-Aircraft Division
The Sparrows Insignia.png
Royal Artillery cap badge and AA patch
Active 15 December 1935 – 1 October 1942
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg Territorial Army
Type Anti-Aircraft Division
Role Air Defence
Part of Northern Command (1936–39)
Anti-Aircraft Command (1939–40)
2 AA Corps (1940–42)
Garrison/HQ RAF Hucknall
Engagements The Blitz

The 2nd Anti-Aircraft Division (2 AA Division) was an Air Defence formation of the British Army from 1935 to 1942. It controlled anti-aircraft gun and searchlight units of the Territorial Army (TA) defending the East Midlands and East Anglia during The Blitz.


In December 1935 the TA's 46th (North Midland) Division (which also acted as HQ for the North Midland Area of Northern Command) was disbanded and its headquarters was converted into 2nd Anti-Aircraft (AA) Division to control the increasing number of AA units being created. At first it administered all AA units in Great Britain outside London and the Home Counties, which were covered by 1st Anti-Aircraft Division. The new division was first organised at York, but shortly afterwards took over 46 Division's HQ at Normanton, Derby.[1][2][3]

Order of Battle

By the end of 1936 the division had the following order of battle, though many of the units were in an easily stage of formation or conversion:[1][3][4]

General Officer Commanding: Major-General J.M.R. Harrison[4][5]

40, 41, 42, 44 and 46 AA battalions had previously been infantry battalions in 46th Division.[3]

In 1938 the Royal Artillery replaced the traditional unit designation 'Brigade' by 'Regiment', which allowed the AA Groups to take the more usual formation title of Brigades.


The TA's AA units were mobilised on 23 September 1938 during the Munich Crisis. Because the organisation of 2 AA Division and its component units was not yet complete, it was only partially mobilised. The emergency mobilisation lasted nearly three weeks before the TA units were released on 14 October. The experience led to improvements in equipment scales, and a rapid expansion of AA defences brought many new AA gun and searchlight units into existence.[6] In November 1938, 31 and 33 AA Bdes transferred to the newly formed 7th Anti-Aircraft Division and 4th Anti-Aircraft Division respectively. In 1939, 30 AA Bde also joined 7 AA Division.[7] They were replaced in 2 AA Division by new brigades. In April 1939, AA Command was formed to control all the AA gun and searchlight defences of the United Kingdom.

Major-General Harrison was transferred to command RA Training Establishments and was replaced as GOC 2 AA Division on 30 May 1939 by Maj-Gen Claude Grove-White.[5][8]

The deterioration in international relations during 1939 led to a partial mobilisation in June, and a proportion of TA AA units manned their war stations under a rotation system known as 'Couverture'. Full mobilisation of AA Command came in August 1939, ahead of the declaration of war on 3 September 1939.[9]

World War II

On the outbreak of war 2 AA Division had the following order of battle:[10][11][12]

When these units went to their war stations, the division had 97 heavy AA (HAA) guns (3-inch and 3.7-inch)ready for action, distributed as follows:[13]

  • Hull: 28 (plus 2 out of action)
  • Leeds: 24 (plus 6 out of action)
  • Sheffield: 20 (plus 3 out of action)
  • Derby: 6
  • Nottingham: 6 (plus 2 out of action)

The division also had 6 3-inch and 12 40mm Bofors light AA (LAA) guns, as well as 88 light machine guns (LMGs).[8]

By 11 July, at the start of the Battle of Britain, this had risen to 231 guns of all types (HAA and LAA excluding LMGs):[14]

  • Leighton Buzzard: 4
  • Nottingham: 16
  • Derby: 40
  • Humber: 38
  • Mobile battery: 8
  • Airfields: 20 (mainly LAA)
  • Vital points: 82 (mainly LAA)

In August 1940, all RE AA battalions became Searchlight regiments of the RA, and AA regiments became HAA regiments to distinguish them from the new LAA regiments being formed.

The Blitz

By late 1940, 2 AA Division formed part of 2 AA Corps. Grove-White had been promoted on 11 November to command the new corps and it shared 2 AA Division's HQ at RAF Hucknall.[5][7][8] The brigades were the same, but by February 1941 their locations and composition had changed:[15][16][17][18]

  • GOC: Major-General F.L.M. Crossman, DSO, MC (transferred from 1 AA Division)[19]
  • 32 AA Bde covering the East Midlands
  • 40 AA Bde covering airfields
  • 41 AA Bde covering East Anglia
    • 78 HAA (part)
    • 29 LAA
    • 60 S/L
    • 65 S/L
    • 69 S/L
  • 50 AA Bde covering Derby & Nottingham
    • 67 HAA
    • 113 HAA (part)
    • 28 LAA
    • 38 LAA (part)
    • 64 LAA (part)
    • 42 S/L
    • 38 S/L (part)
    • 50 S/L
  • 2 AA Divisional Signals

In September 1941, 2 AA Division also formed 15 AA 'Z' Regiment, RA, equipped with Z Battery rocket projectiles.[20]


2 AA Division, like the other AA Corps and Divisions, was disbanded and replaced on 1 October 1942 by a new AA Group structure. The Midlands and East Anglia were covered by 5 AA Group, headquartered at Hucknall. 2 AA Divisional Signals was apparently converted into the new Group signal unit.[7][21]

See also



  • 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 1857530802.
  • Norman E.H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.
  • Cliff Lord & Graham Watson, Royal Corps of Signals: Unit Histories of the Corps (1920–2001) and its Antecedents, Solihull: Helion, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-92-2.
  • Brig N.W. Routledge, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Anti-Aircraft Artillery 1914–55, London: Royal Artillery Institution/Brassey's, 1994, OCLC 852069247

External sources