39th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment

Discussion in 'Royal Artillery' started by vitellino, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello everybody,

    Where can I discover which RASC unit was attached to this Regiment?

    Frank Thomas says:

    Our regiment with its supporting R.A.S.C. unit numbered about 1,000 men


  2. hutt

    hutt Member

    In April 43 1532 Coy (WO175-986) has 2 entries that suggest they were supplying them around that time. If they were part of 22AA Brigade, there may be more in their diaries but I'll have to have a look this evening. That might help for North Arica but it may need further research to pin down who they were allocated in Italy. Unfortunately I don't have 1532 diaries for Italy...on my long list.

    When was the period of interest in the original post?

    Broke Bulk and delivery of rations to: HQ 22 AA Bde; RHQ 80 HAA Regt RA; RHQ 11 LAA Regt RA; 325 HAA Bty RA;252 HAA Bty RA; Fwd 252 HAA Bty RA; 50 LAA Bty RA; 96 LAA Bty RA; 146 LAA Bty RA; 33 LAA Bty RA; 465 Arty Coy RASC; 1532 LAA Pln RASC; 39 LAA Regt RA;
    Tom OBrien and Tricky Dicky like this.
  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank you very much Hutt.

    I am interested in the period from 16 February 1943 until the unit was disbanded in 1945. They landed in Italy at Taranto on 26 December 1943.

    Below is a photo from Frank Thomas' website:



    hutt likes this.
  4. Bruneval

    Bruneval Well-Known Member

    The vehicle is a 3 Ton G.S. Bedford Tractor 4x4 Lt A.A. vehicle. The vehicle was one of 500 procured under contract number V.4531 dated 24th September 1942 (see attached).


    Contract Ledger.jpg

    hutt and Tricky Dicky like this.
  5. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Reading Frank Walker web site then there appears to be several distinct areas of operation for them. Firstly North Africa, and thats where the quote comes in

    We passed through the Straights of Gibraltar by night and arrived at Algiers on Feb 1st 1943, where for the first time in my life I set foot on foreign soil. We then went onto a brickyard 17 kilometres outside Algiers at a small village called Baraki.
    Our regiment with its supporting R.A.S.C. unit numbered about 1,000 men and we were all encamped in the brickworks.

    We sailed past Malta during the night and on Christmas day we were basking in sunshine on the deck of the transport vessel which was by now off the Island of Sicily. We could see Mt Etna in the distance and on Boxing day arrived at Taranto in the extreme south of Italy. I saw the funnels of the Italian fleet were sticking up out of the water! After landing at Taranto we moved a few miles inland and parked by the roadside.

    Then as airfield defence around Foggia under 8th Army

    Then attached to US 5th Army

    We stayed there until May 1944 when we were moved from the 8th Army field of operations and attached to the American 5th Army.

    Are you after the equivalent RASC for all 3 periods?

    hutt likes this.
  6. hutt

    hutt Member

    Now I'm home I can give this a little more thought. The references in 1532 Coy diary are so minimal that it must have been a very short duration requirement to supply 39th LAA. However, that was sufficient for me to copy 39 LAA diary a while ago so I've had a quick scan through that. Looking through it, unfortunately there are no references to their RASC supply platoon. However, some of the information I have been able to amass on my fathers unit (1532) came from the diaries of 22 AA Bde and their RASC support, 465 Coy. I think your best bet (certainly for North Africa) is to find which units supported 39 LAA is to get sight of 62AA Bde and 52AA Bde diaries and from those see if there are diaries for their higher RASC Companies. Now, you need to watch out for a naming change that occurred in the spring of 43, for instance 11 LAA Platoon RASC was renamed 1532 along with others. 22 AA Bde Coy RASC was renamed 465 Coy so there will be something similar going on for the RASC supporting 39 LAA and other regiments platoons in their brigade. For 62 AA Bde there appears to be a diary for their RASC Coy for August to November 42, WO166/9429 and that, along with the actual brigade diaries might get you started here. The lorry picture is fascinating and I've attached a page from 465 Coy diary with vehicle numbers for their lorries. It would be fantastic if the one in the picture could be found in a similar page in another RASC diary. Maybe my dad drove one of these?
    I'll see if I can scan through any of my RA diaries for Italy. Just after the fall of Tunis, Dad was very ill and ended up back in Algeria and then to a unit (1503 Coy) supporting mainly Medium Regiments (most references refer to 70th Med Regt) and I've copied a lot of diaries to support that research. Occasionally you see references to LAA regiments.

    Attached Files:

    Bruneval and Tricky Dicky like this.
  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank you Hutt for your most exhaustive reply. As you say, a good way forward might be to get hold of a copy of WO166/9429.

    TD, I am interested in all these periods. In the third phase, that is from May 1944 onwards, the men belonging to 39 LAA Regt. were actually used as infantry in the area near Pisa not far from where I live.

    Frank Thomas says:

    Travelled up to just south of Pisa without guns. We were now front line infantry. Our first front line position as infantry was in Pisa, south of the River Arno.

    Hutt, do you know if a gunner would have been given the option of joining the RASC rather than becoming an infantryman?

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  8. Bruneval

    Bruneval Well-Known Member


    I have a War Diary entry for 14 Coy RASC:
    • 13 January 1944: '4 Drivers TOS from 1503 Fd Regt Pln RASC'. At the time 14 Company was located in Vasto, Italy.
    • 7 March 1944: '1532 Arty Pln attached this unit for operations only'. 14 Company were located in Vasto and moved on 10 March to San Angelo d'Alife.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  9. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    So we can rule out 14 Coy as 39 LAA were still in the Foggia area, well to the south of Vasto..


  10. hutt

    hutt Member

    Hi Vetelino
    I cant spend too much on this today but will post a more considered answer (and thanks to Bruneval) hopefully later this weekend.
    However, two more possible diaries at Kew

    Subseries within WO 166 - ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORPS
    Reference: WO 166/9501
    39 L.A.A. Regt. Coy.
    Date: 1942 Aug.- 1943 Jan.

    Subsubseries within WO 166 - Light Anti-Aircraft Troops
    Reference: WO 166/14917
    39 L.A.A. Mob. Tps.
    Date: 1944 Mar., Apr.

    I think the best diary to source is the first above as that is likely to that may well give the subsequent number that they will have been changed to and hopefully they then stayed supporting 39 LAA for the duration.

    The second diary is interesting, could that have any relevance to your query about transfer to infantry?

    If I was going anywhere near Kew in the near future I'd be happy to investigate as some of the diaries you want would ultimately be of interest to me but my next visit will probably be around the time we need to bring our son back up from University (June) although having said that, he may well be back this week!

    Can I ask how you are getting on in Italy?

    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  11. Stephen Burch

    Stephen Burch New Member

    Bit of a long shot but i believe my grandad was in the 39th from around 1942-1945. My goal after all this Pandemic is to try and follow his journey from what i can piece together. Would you have any idea of there where abouts during that timeline
    Thanks stephen
  12. hutt

    hutt Member

    Hi Stephen
    Best bet is to get the war diaries. Hopefully they will be detailed enough with places and grid references. Then use the coordinate translator for an approximation and then use the actual war time maps with the (wartime) map grid overlain.

    You can download a full set of 1:100000 from here

    100k Index to WWII topo maps of Italy

    Kew Diary References
    WO 169/9984 for July to December 1943
    WO 170/1224 for 1944
    WO 170/4886 for January to February 1945
  13. Stephen Burch

    Stephen Burch New Member

    Hi graham
    Thanks for sending that. Where would you get the war diaries from. Bit new to this but really want to try and get as much Knowledge as i can. Wish i would of asked my grandad so much more when he was still here.
  14. hutt

    hutt Member

    Those are the catalog references of the files at the National Archives at Kew in London. They won’t be online but can be viewed and copied in person by visiting although it’s quite a rigmarole at the moment. Alternatively, Kew offer a copying service but at a disproportionate cost. Best bet is to contact Drew5233 or PsyWar though this web site and see if they can copy on a future visit at their much more modest fee. good luck and feel free to as further questions. I have managed to compile a detail map of my fathers movements from most of Italy. fortunately his unit diaries recorded most locations with a 6 figure grid reference. Also, have you applied for his service record. It might be useful to know which battery as they may have operated some way apart from the main regimental headquarters. hopefully battery locations will be recorded too.

Share This Page