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North West Europe 1944 - 1947:

British Artillery Formations


At the outbreak of the Second World War, any non-divisional artillery would come under corps or army control. A Corps had both a Commander Corps Royal Artillery and a Commander Corps Medium Artillery to control artillery units allocated to it. This was the structure used in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) during the battle for France in 1940. After the fall of France in 1940, and the evacuation of the BEF a review took place of the deployment of artillery in support of divisional operations.

In 1943, four Army Groups Royal Artillery (AGRA) were formed in the United Kingdom, each under command of a Brigadier. Each was allocated to one the four Corps designated for deployment in France (I Corps, VIII Corps, XII Corps and XXX Corps). During the campaign in North West Europe, the units under command of each of the AGRA remained fairly constant. They could be deployed flexibly to support specific operations as directed by the Corps Commander.

In addition, several anti-aircraft brigades were deployed in North West Europe during 1944 and 1945. Initially, there was a threat from the Luftwaffe, but this soon disappeared. Some of the brigades were deployed around Antwerp to protect the port from attacks by V1 rockets. By 1945, with the manpower shortages becoming acute in the British Army, and with a much reduced threat from air attack, several anti-aircraft units were disbanded and others converted into infantry battalions.

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