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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 United Kingdom.

Anti-Aircraft Command
Anti Aircraft Command formation Patch.gif
Active1 April 1939-10 March 1955
Country United Kingdom
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
TypeCommand
RoleGround Based Air Defence
Garrison/HQBentley Priory
EngagementsBattle of Britain
The Blitz
Baedeker Raids
Baby Blitz
Operation Diver
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lt-Gen Alan Brooke
Lt-Gen Sir Frederick Pile

Contents

OriginEdit

 
Sir Frederick Pile, GOCinC, AA Command, during World War II

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.[1] [2][3]

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.[1][4]

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).[1][5]

OrganisationEdit

DivisionalEdit

 
Maj-Gen Robert Whittaler, GOC 1st AA Division 1940–42, MGGS at AA Command HQ 1942–44.

Divisions under the command were:[2][5][6][7][8]

AA Command was also responsible for the Orkney and Shetland Defences (OSDEF).

CorpsEdit

At the end of 1940, the Command created three Corps to supervise this expanding organisation:[2][5][7][9]

GroupEdit

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:[2][5][13]

(1st and 2nd AA Groups coincided with No. 11 Group RAF)

Later eventsEdit

Later, the 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.[2][14]

A new 9th Anti-Aircraft Group was formed to cover southern East Anglia during the flying bomb offensive (Operation Diver).[2][15]

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.

 
ATS 'Ack-Ack Girls' memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. The badges depicted are those of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Royal Artillery and AA Command.

PostwarEdit

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:[16][17][18]

On 1 December 1954, it was announced that AA Command would be disbanded with effect from 10 March 1955.[19][20]

Senior staffEdit

The following officers held senior posts in AA Command:[2][21]

General Officers Commanding-in-ChiefEdit

Major General, General StaffEdit

 
Senior Controller Christian Fraser-Tytler, DDATS at AA Command HQ from 1943.
  • Major-General Thomas Newton (8 May 1939–31 December 1941)[29]
  • Major-General Robert Whittaker (1 January 1942–21 February 1944[30]
  • Major-General Frank Lejeune (22 February 1944–22 May 1944)[31]
  • Major-General Stephen Lamplugh (19 June 1944–24 June 1945)[32]

Brigadier, General StaffEdit

  • Brigadier B. P. Hughes (1 October 1942–1943)[33]
  • Brigadier Stephen Lamplugh (25 June 1945–30 July 1946)
  • Brigadier Geoffrey Thompson (1 July 1946–31 December 1946)

Chief of StaffEdit

  • Brigadier Geoffrey Thompson (1 January 1947–April 1948)[34]

Deputy Director, Auxiliary Territorial ServiceEdit

  • 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)

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Routledge, Chapter 26.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Robert Palmer, 'AA Command History and Personnel' at British Military History.
  3. ^ Farndale, p. 5.
  4. ^ Wykeham
  5. ^ a b c d Sir Frederick Pile's despatch.
  6. ^ AA Command Orbat 3 September 1939 at Patriot Files
  7. ^ a b "RA 39-45 UK 1940". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  8. ^ Farndale, Annex D.
  9. ^ Routledge, Chapter 28.
  10. ^ "RA 39-45 1 AA Corps". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  11. ^ "RA 39-45 2 AA Corps". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  12. ^ "RA 39-45 3 AA Corps". Ra39-45.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  13. ^ Routledge, Chapter 29.
  14. ^ Routledge, p. 409.
  15. ^ Routledge, p. 417.
  16. ^ Litchfield, pp. 332–5.
  17. ^ Routledge, p. 430.
  18. ^ Watson, TA 1947.
  19. ^ Routledge, p. 439.
  20. ^ Beckett, p. 178.
  21. ^ Farndale, Annex J.
  22. ^ Brooke at Generals of World War II
  23. ^ Pile at Generals of World War II
  24. ^ Green at Generals of World War II
  25. ^ Lund at Generals of World War II
  26. ^ Thomas at Generals of World War II
  27. ^ Loewen at Generals of World War II
  28. ^ Chilton at Generals of World War II
  29. ^ Newton at Generals of World War II
  30. ^ Whittaker at Generals of World War II
  31. ^ Lejeune at Generals of World War II
  32. ^ Lamplugh at Generals of World War II
  33. ^ Hughes at Generals of World War II
  34. ^ Thompson at Generals of World War II

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit