Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Anti Aircraft Command

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Country  United Kingdom
Type  Command
Headquarters  Bentley Priory
Branch  British Army
Garrison/HQ  Bentley Priory
Anti-Aircraft Command
Active  1 April 1939-10 March 1955
Notable commanders  Lt-Gen Alan Brooke Lt-Gen Sir Frederick Pile
Engagements  Battle of Britain, The Blitz, Baedeker Blitz, Operation Steinbock
Similar  RAF Balloon Command, Royal Observer Corps, Army Ground Forces, RAF Fighter Command, Women's Royal Army Corps

Anti-Aircraft Command (AA Command, or 'Ack-Ack Command') was a British Army command of the Second World War that controlled the Territorial Army anti-aircraft artillery and searchlight formations and units defending the British Isles.



The formation of a Command-level body of anti-aircraft defences had been announced in 1938, but Anti-Aircraft Command was not formed until 1 April 1939 under General Sir Alan Brooke, who had been commander of Anti-Aircraft Corps. He then passed control to Sir Frederick Pile, who would remain in command until the end of the war.

AA Command was under the operational direction of RAF Fighter Command as part of Air Defence of Great Britain, and occupied a headquarters known as Glenthorn in the grounds of Bentley Priory, home of Fighter Command.

The majority of AA Command's guns and searchlights were operated by Territorial Army units. Some Regular Army units joined after they returned from the Dunkirk evacuation. Later, as the war progressed, Regulars and TA were freed up for overseas service by the use of men of the Home Guard (loading and firing the guns) and women of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (handling ammunition and operating gun directors).

Divisional organisation

Divisions under the command were:

  • 1st Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at start of the war, headquartered in Uxbridge.
  • 2nd Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at the start of the war, headquartered at RAF Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.
  • 3rd Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at the start of the war, headquartered in Edinburgh.
  • 4th Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at the start of the war, headquartered in Chester.
  • 5th Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at the start of the war, headquartered in Reading.
  • 6th Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at the start of the war, headquartered in Uxbridge.
  • 7th Anti-Aircraft Division - Existing division at the start of the war, headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • 8th Anti-Aircraft Division - Formed October 1940 in South Wales and western England.
  • 9th Anti-Aircraft Division - Formed October 1940.
  • 10th Anti-Aircraft Division - Formed November 1940 in Yorkshire.
  • 11th Anti-Aircraft Division - Formed November 1940 in the West and Central Midlands.
  • 12th Anti-Aircraft Division - Formed November 1940 in southwestern Scotland.
  • AA Command was also responsible for the Orkney and Shetland Defences (OSDEF).

    Corps organisation

    At the end of 1940, the Command created three Corps to supervise this expanding organisation:

  • 1 AA Corps in the South (1, 5, 6, 8 and 9 AA Divisions) corresponding with No 10 and No 11 Groups RAF
  • 2 AA Corps in the Midlands (2, 4, 10 and 11 AA Divisions) corresponding with No 9 and No 12 Groups RAF
  • 3 AA Corps in the North (3, 7 and 12 AA Divisions, and OSDEF) corresponding with No 13 and No 14 Groups RAF
  • Group organisation

    In October 1942, the corps and divisions were abolished and replaced by seven flexible AA Groups more closely aligned with the operational structure of Fighter Command:

  • 1st Anti-Aircraft Group covering London
  • 2nd Anti-Aircraft Group covering the Solent, South-East England and southern East Anglia
  • (1st and 2nd AA Groups coincided with No. 11 Group RAF)

  • 3rd Anti-Aircraft Group covering South-West England and South Wales (coinciding with No. 10 Group RAF)
  • 4th Anti-Aircraft Group covering North Wales and North-West England (coinciding with No. 9 Group RAF)
  • 5th Anti-Aircraft Group covering northern East Anglia and the East Coast as far as Scarborough, North Yorkshire (coinciding with No. 12 Group RAF)
  • 6th Anti-Aircraft Group covering North-East England and Scotland (coinciding with No. 13 Group RAF (except Northern Ireland) and No. 14 Group RAF)
  • 7th Anti-Aircraft Group covering Northern Ireland
  • OSDEF remained separate
  • Later events

    Later, 6th AA Group took over the Solent area to cover the preparations for Operation Overlord and was replaced in NE England by a new 8th Anti-Aircraft Group.

    A new 9th Anti-Aircraft Group was formed to cover southern East Anglia during the flying bomb offensive (Operation Diver).

    On 1 April 1943, AA Command took over control of smoke screens from the Ministry of Home Security. These installations were manned by the Pioneer Corps.


    When the TA was reformed after World War II in 1947, AA Command was generously provided for, with a large number of units, some of them including members of the Women's Royal Army Corps (successors of the ATS). It was structured in five regional AA Groups, each commanding a number of TA and Regular AA Brigades:

  • 1st AA Group – London
  • 2nd AA Group – Aldershot
  • 3rd AA Group – Edinburgh
  • 4th AA Group – Warrington
  • 5th AA Group – Nottingham
  • On 1 December 1954, it was announced that AA Command would be disbanded with effect from 10 March 1955.

    Senior staff

    The following officers held senior posts in AA Command:

    General Officers Commanding-in-Chief

  • Lieutenant-General Alan Brooke (1 April–28 July 1939; GOC AA Corps 15 July 1938–31 March 1939)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Pile (12 October 1939–14 April 1945)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir William Green (15 April 1945–30 April 1946)
  • Lieutenant-General Otto Lund (1 May 1946–May 1948)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Ivor Thomas (May 1948–27 May 1950)
  • Lieutenant-General Charles Loewen (28 May 1950–16 April 1953)
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Maurice Chilton (17 April 1953–15 May 1955)
  • Major General, General Staff

  • Major-General Thomas Newton (8 May 1939–31 December 1941)
  • Major-General Robert Whittaker (1 January 1942–21 February 1944
  • Major-General Frank Lejeune (22 February 1944–22 May 1944)
  • Major-General Stephen Lamplugh (19 June 1944–24 June 1945)
  • Brigadier, General Staff

  • Brigadier B.P. Hughes (1 October 1942–1943)
  • Brigadier Stephen Lamplugh (25 June 1945–30 July 1946)
  • Brigadier Geoffrey Thompson (1 July 1946–31 December 1946)
  • Chief of Staff

  • Brigadier Geoffrey Thompson (1 January 1947–April 1948)
  • Deputy Director, Auxiliary Territorial Service

  • Controller V.P. Farrow (12 May 1942–14 October 1942)
  • Controller The Hon Lady M. Lawrence (15 October 1942–27 June 1943)
  • Senior Controller Christian Fraser-Tytler (28 June 1943–1944/45)
  • References

    Anti-Aircraft Command Wikipedia

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