Royal Artillery (Territorial Army)

234th Battery, 89th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment,


It was originally formed in early 1939, as part of the doubling in size of the Territorial Army, as  89th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (Territorial Army) from the 75th (Home Counties) (Cinque Ports) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (Territorial Army) with two batteries from that regiment. Its headquarters were in Sittingbourne, Kent.


After mobilisation in September 1939 the regiment served in UK until sent to the Middle East. This battery arrived in Crete in April of 1941 and was armed with eight 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns. The 20th May 1941 was the day that the Germans launched a heavy air attack on Crete, including bombing attacks on all the airfields and a major paratroop landing.


On 20th May 1941 the battery was providing air protection for Heraklion when it was attacked by a parachute regiment of the German 7th Air Division of Fliegerkorps XI. One troop of 234th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery had many paratroopers fall into a position where there were only two Lewis guns and eight rifles for defence.


The war diary indicates that a heavy bombing and machine gun attack began shortly after dawn and parachute troops landed all over the island. German parachute infantry landed in the battery area about 1800 hours and many of the defenders were killed or taken prisoner. Isolated groups of enemy paratroopers sniped at the battery position most of the night.


The Right Troop of the Battery under Lieutenant A. Corbett was attached to 52nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment and was attacked by enemy paratroopers near Suda. Three officers, all senior NCOs and approximately 50 men were killed, plus another 30 wounded.


Most of the men did not even have weapons to protect themselves.


The British Army Roll of Honour for the Second World War records that 139 officers and men were killed on 20th May 1941, 83 of them in the Royal Artillery and 63 of them serving in the Middle East theatre (which included Crete).


Regimental History


Pages 177 - 180 of "History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: The Years of Defeat, 1939-41", given an excellent account of the battery's part in the Crete battles including quotations from the regiment's war diary. During the Crete battles 234th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery lost three officers, six sergeants and 48 men killed and 182 missing and presumed captured. Only 29 men of the battery managed to get back to Egypt.


The regiment had served in UK until sent to the Middle East then it served as independent batteries until 1943. In 1943-44 it took part in the invasion of Italy. The regiment was placed in suspended animation in 1944. It was revived in 1947 as 489th (Mobile) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (Territorial Army) with a headquarters at Ramsgate, Kent. In 1953 it was re-designated  489th (Cinque Ports) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (Territorial Army). The regiment was finally disbanded in 1955.


It is gratefully acknowledged that the above is collated from information forwarded by ;

Richard Flory,  Frank  W  Bullen  &  Iain Kerr