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72nd (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery

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Active  1938–1955
Branch  Territorial Army
Role  Air Defence
Country  United Kingdom
Type  Searchlight Regiment
Size  Regiment
72nd (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery

72nd (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery was an air defence unit of Britain's Territorial Army (TA) raised just before the outbreak of World War II, which served as part of Anti-Aircraft Command during and after the war.

Contents

Origin

As the international situation deteriorated in the late 1930s, the threat of air raids on the UK led to the rapid expansion in numbers of anti-aircraft (AA) units manned by members of the part-time TA. Formed in November 1938, 72nd (Middlesex) was the third of a new group of three TA searchlight regiment raised by the Royal Artillery (previous TA S/L units had all been part of the Royal Engineers and/or converted from infantry battalions). It consisted of HQ and Nos 465–467 Companies (later Batteries) based at a newly built drill hall at Vicarage Road, Heston. Shortly afterwards the regiment moved to Twickenham. It was equipped with the new '90 cm Projector Anti Aircraft', a smaller and lighter piece of equipment than previous searchlights, with a more powerful high current density arc lamp with automatic carbon feed.

World War II

Anti-Aircraft Command mobilised in August 1939, ahead of the declaration of war on 3 September, and the regiment took its place in 47th AA Brigade, part of 5th AA Division tasked with defending Southampton.

Southampton was a regular target for raids by the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, but by November 1940 the regiment had transferred to 40 AA Bde in 2nd AA Division in the Midlands. It had the responsibility for covering RAF airfields in the East Midlands and continued in that role throughout the Blitz of 1940–41.

As the threat from the Luftwaffe waned in 1944, the War Office warned in June that AA Command would have to release manpower to provide reinforcements to 21st Army Group fighting in North West Europe. The run-down began in September 1944, and 72nd S/L Rgt was placed in 'suspended animation' in that month, with its personnel being posted away.

Postwar

When the TA was reconstituted in 1947, 72nd S/L Rgt was reformed at Twickenham as 607 Searchlight Regiment, RA (Middlesex), forming part of 67 AA Bde (the former 41 AA Bde based at Shepherds Bush). In 1949 the regiment's role was altered and it was redesignated 607th (Mixed) Light Anti-Aircraft/Searchlight Regiment, RA (Middlesex) ('Mixed' denoting that members of the Women's Royal Army Corps were integrated into the unit).

AA Command was disbanded on 10 March 1955, and 607 LAA/SL Regiment was disbanded at the same time.

References

72nd (Middlesex) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery Wikipedia


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