Indian Light AA/ Anti-Tank Regiments

Four Indian anti-tank regiments converted or partially converted to the LAA/A Tk regiments  during World War II but they were never employed in their new role except the 2nd LAA/A Tk Regiment that served with 23rd Division for a brief period in 1943-44.  These regiments were

1st LAA/A Tk Regiment

The regiment was  raised at Hyderabad as ‘K’ Anti-Tank Regiment on 1st August 1940 and was redeisganted as the 1st Anti-Tank Regiment on 2nd  April 1941.  The  Regiment served in  Iraq in 1941 with the 8th  and 10t Indian Infantry Divisions,  returning to India in March 1943. It disembarked at Karachi on 13th  March 1943 before moving to quarters at Sialkot two days later.  The Regiment was notified on 15th  August 1943 that it had been earmarked for conversion as a  LAA/A Tk regiment.  Whilst some preparatory training was undertaken, no guns had been received till  December 1943. It converted to become an anti-tank/mortar regiment in 1944, with three batteries, each equipped with twelve 6-pounder anti-tank guns and twelve 3-inch mortars. By October 1944, the Regiment had converted to this new organisation.

2nd LAA/A Tk Regiment

The Regiment was raised at Hyderabad as ‘L’ Anti-Tank Regiment on 1st  April 1941, changing its designation to 2ndAnti-Tank Regiment the next day. The regimented batteries were the 5th , 6th , 7th  and 8th  Anti-Tank Batteries.  In February 1942, the Regiment arrived in Burma and served under the command of the 17th  Indian Infantry Division.  By early 1943, after its  return from Burma,  the Regiment had become divisional troops to the 23rd  Indian Infantry Division.

During July 1943, the Regiment was notified that the 5th  and 8th  Batteries were to convert as the light anti-aircraft batteries and were to be equipped with 40mm Bofors guns and later with 20mm Hispano guns for both anti-aircraft and ground role.  

On 22nd  July 1943, the regiment began preparing for the conversion, liaising with  28th  L.A.A. Regiment, R.A. which not only conducted a familiarisation cadre but also provided Bofors guns for gun drill demonstration.  The Regiment was meanwhile informed that it would be equipped with “Oerlikon” 20mm guns.  As the AA guns were awaited,  both batteries continued to train with the 2-pounder anti-tank gun for their original role. In November 1943, the Regiment was told to expect delivery of four Hispano guns for use in training by the 5th  and 8th  Batteries. This was followed by orders that the AA guns for the two batteries would be the 40mm Bofors after all, two of which arrived in February 1944. With this, at least the gun drill training began. However, the 5th  and 8th  Batteries continued to retain their 2-pounder anti-tank guns for the remainder of the “campaigning season”. In March 1944, detachments of the Regiment began to prepare defensive positions at the “Thoubal Box” in anticipation of the Japanese offensive.  Against this background of imminent action, on 16th  March 1944, the 8th  Battery exchanged its 2-pounder anti-tank guns for twelve 40mm Bofors guns.  The Battery was expected to have completed conversion by 1st  April 1944.  The Regiment, together with the 6th, 7th  and 8th  Batteries was part of the defences at the Thoubal Box, the 5th  Battery having been attached to the 123rd  Indian Infantry Brigade and sent to Imphal.

The Regiment officially converted to become the 2nd Anti-Aircraft/Anti-Tank Regiment, I.A. on 1st  April 1944.  However, during the month it was decided that the 5th  Battery would not convert to become an anti-aircraft battery until the 8th  Battery had been fully trained.  As 8th LAA Battery was already in existence (part of 2nd LAA Regiment), 8th Battery was renumbered as the 208th LAA Battery.

Meanwhile, inside the Thoubal Box, the 208th  Battery had three Bofors guns in action. The battery moved to Bull Box (Palel) during May and June 1944, accompanied by RHQ and rear parties.    The location statement for the divisional artillery of the 23rd  Indian Infantry Division for 28th June 1944 gives the disposition of the Regiment as follows:

HQ, 2nd  A.A./Atk Regiment    Bull Box

5th  Anti-Tank Battery               Bull Box

6th  Anti-Tank Battery               Langgol

7th  Anti-Tank Battery               Patiala Ridge

208th  L.A.A. Battery                 Langgol, less one troop at Palel.

At the end of July 1944, the Regiment left Bull Box for the Shenam area where the main responsibility was in patrolling the area in the infantry role, on the lookout for Japanese stragglers.  The Regiment returned to Bull Box on 7th  August 1944 and the following day handed in all its remaining 2-pounder anti-tank guns.  On 9th  August 1944, the 208th  Battery  set off for Manipur Road where it handed in its Bofors guns.  The R.H.Q. with the 5th , 6th  and 7th Anti-Tank Batteries moved to Manipur Road on 10th August 1944 as the first step in the journey to Shillong, where it arrived on 13th  August 1944.

Indian divisional anti-tank regiments were once again the subject of reorganisation from August 1944, when they were reorganised to consist of three batteries, each equipped with twelve 6-pounder anti-Tank guns and twelve 3-inch mortars. The 2nd Regiment converted to become one such anti-tank/mortar unit during August 1944, drawing its first 3-inch mortars at Shillong on 21st August 1944.  

During August 1944, the 208th  was disbanded at Shillong as part of the reorganisation of the Regiment to become an anti-tank/mortar regiment, bringing an end to the only Indian LAA/A Tk regiment. 

7th  LAA/Atk Regiment

The 7th Anti-Tank Regimentwas raised at Kumbhargaon on 1st  May 1942 with    25th , 26th  and 27th  Batteries.  From early 1943 to March 1944, the Regiment served with the 25th  Indian Infantry. The Regiment moved to Madras where by April it began converting to become an A.A./Atk regiment.  Probably in August 1944, it was reorganised as an anti-tank/mortar regiment.  By the time it left Madras in late 1944 for the Arakan to rejoin the 25th  Indian Infantry Division, it was composed of the 9th , 25th  and 26th  Anti-Tank Batteries, equipped with both 6-pounder anti-tank guns and 3-inch mortars.

15th (Punjab) LAA/Anti-Tank Regiment

The 15th (Punjab) Anti-Tank Regiment was raised on 1st  August 1942, by the conversion of the Machine Gun Battalion, 15th  Punjab Regiment.  It formed part of General Reserve of G.H.Q. India until 19th  July 1943 when it became part of IV Corps. In September 1943, the Regiment moved from Babina, near Jhansi, and came under the command of 151 Lines of Communication Sub Area for administration.  At this time, the Regiment was organised as a four battery regiment, composed of the 28th , 29th , 30th  and 31st  Batteries.  The Regiment remained listed as Corps Troops, IV Corps until October 1944 when it came under command XXXIII Corp. The Regiment  converted to LAA/A Tk Regiment with three batteries – two LAA and one A Tk. These were numbered as 203 & 204 AA Batteries and 31stA Tk Battery. It was disbanded on 7th  November 1944 while located at Imphal.