A Genealogical Study


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1634702 Gnr Manis Goldberg

249 Battery, 79 LAA Regt, Royal Artillery, Paiforce

(Both photos probably taken in Iraq, c.1943)



LAA is "Light Anti-Aircraft" so 79 LAA Regt is a Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment consisting, usually, of a Regimental Headquarters and three gun batteries. As 79th was a war-formed regiment, it was classed as TA (Territorial Army). The usual armament of an LAA unit was the Bofors 40mm gun, although they could also have 20mm Oerlikons a well. In the Middle East, a large number of captured Italian LAA guns were also used.



Manis (front left) with army friends, c.1943


The three gun batteries were numbered, the number being unique throughout the LAA branch. Therefore, there was only one 249 LAA Battery, although battery numbers could be repeated in other branches of the Royal Artillery, e.g. 15 Field Battery, 15 LAA Battery, 15 Medium Battery etc.


LAA was employed either in static (or semi-mobile) defence positions, such as ports, airfields, factories etc., or with the field army, where it provided air defence for HQs, field artillery gun sites and any other vulnerable points (bridges etc).


Paiforce is "Persia and Iraq Force", which was formed on 3 September 1942 with 10th Army under command. It became HQ Persia and Iraq Command in February 1945. It was formed to deal with any insurrection in the area and to defend the oil resources there.


The anti-aircraft element of Paiforce was organised into two AA brigades, being a mixture of light and heavy AA regiments. 4 AA Brigade was based at Basra and 8 AA Brigade was based at Qum. I can find no record of which brigade 79 LAA was with, but they are listed as being on strength in December 1942. By October 1943, they are the only LAA regiment listed from the original four regiments in Paiforce and are still listed there in May 1944.


The troops of Paiforce had a rather uneventful time as the Axis forces made no attempt to attack the area, but much valuable training was carried out in very primitive conditions and extremes of heat and cold, so no-one could say they had an easy time.



Photos from estate of Marie Marks, published by permission of Anthea Gerrie. Explanation by Derek Barton, ex-sergeant in the Royal Artillery.

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