95th (Birmingham) Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army

Discussion in 'Regiment Histories' started by oowebb, May 21, 2009.

  1. oowebb

    oowebb New Member

    This was the hand written history of my Grandfather's TA regiment pre-war. i though it might be of interest to someone, even though he didn't finish it. I found it in some of his papers after he died.


    History of the 95th (Birmingham) Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army.

    The advent of war, ever apparent with the political moves that followed the crisis of September 1938, made it necessary to form additional Anti-Aircraft units in this country to ensure the safety of our civilian population and continuance of essential industries in the event of hostilities.

    It was natural that Birmingham, centre of the important industrial area of the Midlands should be chosen to provide one of these new Anti-Aircraft regiments.

    Thus, the 1st April 1939 saw the formation of the first Anti-Aircraft Birmingham regiment, designated the 95th (Birmingham) Anti-Aircraft Regiment and a successful beginning was assumed when Colonel J. H. Lawrence O.B.E., M.C., T.D., D.L., R.A., (T.A.). – a proven soldier of twenty-five years continued service, known to all members of the Territorial Association, consented to command the new regiment.

    At the outset an existing Anti-Aircraft battery, the 204th A.A. battery of the 73rd A.A. Regiment, was taken to form the nucleus of the new regiment, which was eventually to consist of four batteries. It was at the Metropolitan Cammel Carriage Works, Saltley, where the Headquarters of the 204th Battery were situated and that for the first few days; the Regimental Headquarters were accommodated.

    Events moved fast. Captain J. D. Geddes of the Regular Army was appointed as Adjutant; the second battery, designated the 293rd and commanded by Major Jones T.D., R.A., (T.A.). Were given certain key personnel from the 204th battery and were raised to full strength within the short space of one day.

    The Regimental Staff were moved to St. Marks School, Washwood Heath and though the surroundings may not have been too inspiring the Regiment quickly forged ahead in efficiency.

    For the first month the drilling of the two batteries in the confined space of the Drill Hall at Saltley might have proved disheartening to anyone, but for the enthusiasm shown by all ranks. After many conferences with higher command the Commanding Officer finally obtained a site for the construction of temporary Battery Headquarters at Washwood Heath Road, Birmingham. It was therefore not with regret that the 293rd moved from Saltley and became established in wooden huttings at Washwood Heath.

    A change in the command of 204th Battery now occurred. Major Freer-Ash resigned and was succeeded by Captain P. S. Stockton (later Lt. Col. T.D.) of the same Battery.

    All available time was now being given to the training programme for the conversion period of one month, which all Anti-Aircraft units had been called upon to do under a new act of parliament.

    In July 1939 our commanding officer was conferred with the O.B.E. by H.M. the King at Buckingham Palace, a most deserving recognition of his work for the Territorial Association.

    The first two weeks of embodiment, 23rd July – 5th August started with the occupation of gun sites K & P in Birmingham by the 204th Battery and sites B & L in Coventry by the 293rd Battery. This period of the Regiment’s training was fully justified by the result obtained at annual camp, Tonfanau, Gwynedd, Wales that followed.

    The distinction of picking up and firing on a target at a height of 18,000 feet was one of the feats, which was reported direct to Anti-Aircraft Command.

    Training under the supervision of the I. G. Of the camp, Major Saundus R. A., the batteries improved their drill to the greatest possible extent and it was with sad regret that all ranks returned to Birmingham with the termination of camp, 22nd August 1939.

    It is well to point out that words can never impart to the reader the immense amount of time and energy that the C.O., Adjutant and staff had given to the Regiment. Indeed, all ranks were justly proud of their standard at this early stage in the history of the regiment.

    The parting words of the C.O. at camp can well be remembered “ we shall meet again within a week”. How true a prophecy this proved to be, for, within two days of our return the war clouds were rapidly forming and the call to arms came to all Anti-Aircraft and Search-Light units throughout the country.

    For a while thoughts of a crisis similiar to that of the previous September played in the minds of the people. The Regiment was still hopeful enough to start recruiting for the two batteries that had still to be formed.

    However, political events proved this was not to be and a state of war was declared to exist against Germany on 3rd September 1939.

    Thus, it was with sad regret that we wrenched th “Ts” from our shoulders when high command authourised the absorption of the Territorial Army into the Regular Army.

    The 204th Battery occupied sites: “N”, Castle Bromwich, “O” Olton and “Q” Swanhurst Park during the first weeks. As the 293rd Battery was so newly formed and had not as yet recieved any commitments the site at Swanhurt Park was later handed over to them on the 14th September 1939.

    The Regimental Headquarters were moved from Washwood Heath and established their first Headquarters of war at The Golf House, Castle Bromwich. Hear, twixt sand bags and golf clubs, the plans for the training of batteries, ever necessary, continued. From the social point of view the stay at the Golf House proved very comfortable and pleasant. It was indeed hard to realise that a state of war existed.

    But it was known that this situation was of a temporary character and on the 16th September 1939, Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Lawrence was appointed the A. D. C. of Coventry. With minimum delay the C. O. Billeted his staff at “Rosehill”, St. Nichoas Street, Coventry, a large private country house in excellent repair. This was most befitting of a Regimental Headquarters.

    The 204th A. A. Battery was moved from Birmingham to site A at Langford, Coventry, whilst the 293rd A. A. Battery remained at Swanhurst Park, Birmingham. Sites B, D, L and G of Coventry were occupied by outside batteries and were administered from the headquarters of the 95th A. A. Regiment.

    In the meantime, a conference at 34 Brigade Headquarters informed the Colonel of a further move under consideration. It was known as the ‘Q’ Plan and all officerswill remember it forever without a doubt. The numerous conferences held by high command to discuss its merit and disadvantages can never be told.

    Nevertheless, with the imminent move of the Regiment to ‘Q’, the A.A.D.C. of Coventry was handed over to Colonel Bushnel.

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