World War II light ack-ack

Pteranadon don't forget quite a few RAF Regt and other RAF and RN personnel were transferred to the Army in 1944/45. Here are a few extracts from the RAF Regt history Through Adversity:

However, even as the plans for RAF Regiment involvement in
Operation Overlord were being finalised in May 1944, the War Office
– this time with the support of the Prime Minister – was renewing its
129
demands for more men for the infantry from the RAF Regiment.
This was despite the fact that the deployment of RAF Regiment LAA
squadrons on airfields in the UK had already released over 13,000
soldiers back to the field army and that there were less than 4,000
RAF Regiment gunners deployed on ground defence tasks at home.
The Secretary of State for Air advised the Prime Minister that “there
is not one man more in the RAF Regiment than is necessary to meet
existing war requirements; in any event, most of those in the RAF
Regiment are LAA gunners, not infantrymen.”2 This made no impact
at all on Churchill, who responded “the Army has already culled its
AA gunners – now it is the turn of the RAF Regiment. I want 25,000
men transferred, including 2,000 immediately for the Guards as
replacements. They will be much better employed there than loafing
around already overcrowded airfields.”
The Air Ministry answer was to offer the equivalent of 15 LAA
squadrons – some 3,000 men – out of a total UK-based strength of
38,000. Faced with these unassailable facts, Churchill reluctantly
amended his original demand to 10,000 men – of whom 2,000 were
required immediately to bring the Guards up to strength. A call for
volunteers from the Regiment and other Group V trades was made,
but as the conditions included the requirement for all NCOs to forfeit
their rank on transfer, there were few sergeants or corporals among
the 691 volunteers. As, even in the midst of war, there was no legal
method of forcibly transferring men from one Service to another
against their will, the shortfall of 1,309 men had to be made up by
discharging selected RAF Regiment airmen and immediately calling
them up for Army service. Of the 2,000 transfers obtained in this
underhand way, 1,539 went to the Guards and 461 to infantry
regiments.3
Over 400 of those men ended up in 2 Scots Guards.

The Cabinet subsequently decided that the
140,000 young men who were due to be called up in the first half of
1945 would all be directed to the Army. In addition, both the Royal
Navy and the Royal Air Force were required to find 20,000 men
each who would agree to transfer to the Army.
Thus in 1945 the RAF Regiment had to surrender a further
5,000 men (including 300 sergeants and 500 corporals who were
allowed to retain their rank) as their share of the RAF’s manpower
contribution to the Army. The net result was that a further 36 RAF
Regiment squadrons were disbanded and the level of support for the
RAF’s post-war disarmament teams was reduced by ten RAF
Regiment squadrons. Another result was that medical employment
standards for home service had to be reduced so that the UK-based
squadrons could be manned by men who had been medically
downgraded, thus releasing fully-fit gunners for overseas service.
RAF Regt strength in North-West Europe:

On 31st December 1944 83 Group had six RAF Regiment wing
headquarters, with nine LAA, two rifle and two armoured car
squadrons under command. In No.84 Group the count was eight wing
headquarters with ten LAA, five rifle and two armoured car squadrons
while 85 Group had two wing headquarters with five rifle and two
armoured car squadrons. 2 Group contained one wing headquarters
and seven rifle squadrons. One rifle squadron was retained as the
defence force for HQ Allied Expeditionary Air Forces.
As Signalman wrote above many of the rifle and armoured car sqns did serve in the line over the winter of 1944/45 attached to British and Canadian units.

By the 18th February 1945 the number of
RAF Regiment squadrons in 2 TAF had risen to a total of 65: 28
LAA, 31 rifle and six armoured car squadrons.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
So logically the Rocks were better off if they were deployed already in armd car role than in some cushy airfield at home!
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
So logically the Rocks were better off if they were deployed already in armd car role than in some cushy airfield at home!
The British Army in WW2 had plenty of pewople swanning around in Armoured Cars. The shortage was of trained infantrymen capable of closing with the enemy on foot, especially in Italy and NW Europe. Winston Churchill drew attention to the high proportiuon of vehicles to soldiers. "We must have a great superiority in chauffeurs"
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
Still exactly as I said better off being raf reg in a humber than rebadged to PBI!
 

tiv

LE
You chaps seem to be extremely well informed on all things AA.

Could any of you inform me of where I could get information relating to AA batterys that would have been stationed around the East End of London during the war.

My Grandmother operated a search light and latterly some form of AA gun which I believe was located on Wanstead Flats, not far from the the London Docklands (Royal Albert Dock etc).

I believe in the lead up to D-Day, Wanstead Flats was used as a harbour area with tens of thousands of troops under canvas, and the AA units were on a high state of alert to protect them.

I also found a photo online of one of the guns on the flats, and it appears to be something quit substantial. Fig 10 of the enclosed link:
The Second World War in the Park


It would be nice to find out a bit more about what she may have done.

Thanks in advance.
This thread came up on a search and thought I'd reply at risk of getting flamed for reserecting a long dead thread.

Wanstead Flats did not have 5.25" guns and according to Pastscape Pastscape - Detailed Result: HEAVY ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY LONDON ZE9 was armed with 3.7" statics. Further it does not feature on a list of proposed 5.25" sites. The photo is one of four in the IWN archive Search our collection | Imperial War Museums where H 34428 gives the Location simply as East London. This would point to it being Hackney Marsh where ther was a 5.25" battery that replaced a nearby 4.5" battery.

A rather poor photo of the battery on the Flats.- Britain from Above EAW020710

Wanstead Flats AA.jpg


Hackney 5.25" - RAF 2nd April 1946

Hackney Marsh Rpt.jpg


and an oblique view from Britain from Above EAW022046

EAW022426.png
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
This thread came up on a search and thought I'd reply at risk of getting flamed for reserecting a long dead thread.
Nowt wrong with a spot of robust, informed debate.
 
The 5.25in (and 4.7in) mountings were usually (although not exclusively) mounted in defence of naval dockyards. The best of the 3.7in, the static Mk6, was not far short in performance and saw both of the others out, finally being scrapped in about 1956.
 

tiv

LE
The 5.25" were emplaced around Portsmouth, Plymouth, Liverpool, London with a corridor along the Thames and with a solitary battery at Harwich. It does appear that following the end of WWII some sites never were completed. In the Cold War a few more batteries were added at Liverpool and a ring of five around The Clyde. There were also an AA and a Dual Purpose battery put into Gibraltar and two Dual Purpose batteries in Malta.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
That's fatastic information. I've not come across 20mm Crusader AAs being handed to LAA Regts before and that's the first direct evidence I've ever seen regarding re-assignment of Crusader AAs. It's also the first time I've heard of Cromwells being used in AT Regts!
Returning to the Zombie thread. I finished my research on AA in Normandy, which nyou can read all about in Gunners in Normandy.

The 20mm AA tanks issued to RA Regiments were a liability. They looked useful, as did the .50 cal mounted on every US Tank cupola, but they did not have self detonating rounds, unlike the German Flak 30. The 20mm Oerlikon was fine on a ship (big sea small ships), but were a menace in a crowded land battlefield. Unless manned by soldiers with good aircraft recognition and drilled in AA Fire discipline. (i.e. strict obedience to fire orders and observance of safe arcs), some neighbouring unit 5k away would receive the benefit of 600 rounds per minute of HE.
I have not looked at the RAC AA Crusader in detail but I can't see how it was aimed. It did not use the Stiffkey sight used by the Bofors.
By July 1944 the allies had air superiority and the RAC wanted spare tank crews. The Gunners were happy to take the AA Crusaders. 1) As gun tractors for the 17 pounder in place of the unarmoured Field Artillery Tractor. 2) As fire support for artillery recce. There was nearly a nasty incident in June when a company of SS Troops ambushed the recce parties of 25 Field Regiment. On that occasion the situation was saved by the arrival of the guns a troop or two of tanks and the 2IC mounting a battlegroup attack.

I maligned the Crusader in my earlier post. There were no complaints about reliability. However there were warnings about gunners driving the Crusader at high speed, especially when towing guns.
 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
That looks like the triple Polsten/oerlikon mount on the Morris SP Bofors chassis. Where was the picture taken? Routledge's book on AA guns says that 93 LAA were entriely equipped with SP triple Polsten. This looks like a mount which fits that desctiption.
I was wrong. 93 LAA Regiment deployed on D Day with the triple Polsten mounting on Crusader tank chassis. Not quite sure where the wheeled SP was deployed.
 
They were. Quite a few of them were also put into the line during the 'Operational Pause' during the winter of 1944/45, as well as to allow formations to disengage and re-deploy to meet the Germans in the Ardennes.
late 1944 was barrel scraping time for the British Army.
as well as lots of of RAF types getting a transfer, lots of reserved occupation jobs in the UK were taken off the list and medical and age requirements were reduced for conscripts.
The cupboard was simply bare.

.
 
Returning to the Zombie thread. I finished my research on AA in Normandy, which nyou can read all about in Gunners in Normandy.

The 20mm AA tanks issued to RA Regiments were a liability. They looked useful, as did the .50 cal mounted on every US Tank cupola, but they did not have self detonating rounds, unlike the German Flak 30. The 20mm Oerlikon was fine on a ship (big sea small ships), but were a menace in a crowded land battlefield. Unless manned by soldiers with good aircraft recognition and drilled in AA Fire discipline. (i.e. strict obedience to fire orders and observance of safe arcs), some neighbouring unit 5k away would receive the benefit of 600 rounds per minute of HE.
I have not looked at the RAC AA Crusader in detail but I can't see how it was aimed. It did not use the Stiffkey sight used by the Bofors.
By July 1944 the allies had air superiority and the RAC wanted spare tank crews. The Gunners were happy to take the AA Crusaders. 1) As gun tractors for the 17 pounder in place of the unarmoured Field Artillery Tractor. 2) As fire support for artillery recce. There was nearly a nasty incident in June when a company of SS Troops ambushed the recce parties of 25 Field Regiment. On that occasion the situation was saved by the arrival of the guns a troop or two of tanks and the 2IC mounting a battlegroup attack.

I maligned the Crusader in my earlier post. There were no complaints about reliability. However there were warnings about gunners driving the Crusader at high speed, especially when towing guns.
By a spooky coincidence, I ordered that book today, following a discussion on another forum! :)
 
late 1944 was barrel scraping time for the British Army.
as well as lots of of RAF types getting a transfer, lots of reserved occupation jobs in the UK were taken off the list and medical and age requirements were reduced for conscripts.
The cupboard was simply bare.

.
Yes.
 
Returning to the Zombie thread. I finished my research on AA in Normandy, which nyou can read all about in Gunners in Normandy.

The 20mm AA tanks issued to RA Regiments were a liability. They looked useful, as did the .50 cal mounted on every US Tank cupola, but they did not have self detonating rounds, unlike the German Flak 30. The 20mm Oerlikon was fine on a ship (big sea small ships), but were a menace in a crowded land battlefield. Unless manned by soldiers with good aircraft recognition and drilled in AA Fire discipline. (i.e. strict obedience to fire orders and observance of safe arcs), some neighbouring unit 5k away would receive the benefit of 600 rounds per minute of HE.
I have not looked at the RAC AA Crusader in detail but I can't see how it was aimed. It did not use the Stiffkey sight used by the Bofors.
By July 1944 the allies had air superiority and the RAC wanted spare tank crews. The Gunners were happy to take the AA Crusaders. 1) As gun tractors for the 17 pounder in place of the unarmoured Field Artillery Tractor. 2) As fire support for artillery recce. There was nearly a nasty incident in June when a company of SS Troops ambushed the recce parties of 25 Field Regiment. On that occasion the situation was saved by the arrival of the guns a troop or two of tanks and the 2IC mounting a battlegroup attack.

I maligned the Crusader in my earlier post. There were no complaints about reliability. However there were warnings about gunners driving the Crusader at high speed, especially when towing guns.
Bovington has a surviving (slightly shot-up) twin 20mm turret (from a Centaur rather than a Crusader AA), so do they perhaps have the answer re sighting?
 
Whole sqns of RAF Regt were sent to the Army for training as Infantry, mostly they were fed into the battle casualty replacement machine and allocated as individuals rather than as whole units which was the practice at the time. If a unit was deployed from the UK it would remain as a unit, drafts of replacements from infantry training establishments could be sent anywhere regarrdless of cap badge, something which was introduced during the Italian campaign much to the disgust of returning wounded soldiers in the 8th Army.
Wasn't that the cause of the Salerno mutiny?
 
They became rather good at shooting down German aircraft. It took 10,000 rounds for each bomber shot down in the blitz - but only 300 for each V1.
Radar directed guns & Proximity fuses no doubt played a large part
 

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