9 Rajputana LAA Regiment, RIA

Factoids

9 Rajputana LAA Regiment was raised on 1 May 1942 at Mhow when 9/6 Rajputana was selected as one of the seven Infantry Battalions for conversion to AA Regiments. A total of four LAA and three HAA Regiments were so converted.

The Regiment had RHQ, 28, 29 and 30 LAA Batteries on conversion. Of these, 28 LAA Battery was disbanded on 30 September and was replaced by 22 Sikh LAA Battery of 7 Sikh LAA Regiment ( the Regiment was one of the first to be disbanded  – on 30 September 1943). 

The Regiment was allowed to use the title ‘Rajputana’ in its unit designation and the unit badge also incorporated the ‘Rajputana’ crest.

Officers of 9 Rajputana LAA Regiment outside their Mess at Gulanche, Oct 1945

9 Rajputana LAA Regiment joined the formation in January 1945. It collected 18 40mm AA SP guns from COD Kirkee and 36 40mm AA Mk I guns from AATC Mehgaon for its new role. It was joined by 136 and 137 AAOR (Mobile), 2 Indian HAA Regiment and 1 Indian Smoke company. The brigade was now to train for mobile and combined operations at the Combined Training Centre at Khadakvasla, outside Poona. In May 1945, the Brigade moved to Gulunche and the training continued on amphibious operations.

Amphibious operations were something new for the Indian anti-aircraft regiments. From training to mount their guns on Morris trucks for embarkation and disembarkation to tactical siting of the guns and control & reporting system on a beachhead, the regiments had to go through the entire regime. Captain Arthur Finn, one of the British officers posted to the 9th Rajputana LAA Regiment, recollects-

“One of the first things I asked for at Deolali was a posting East of Dacca for the very good reason that rates of pay were higher if you were stationed there. This however produced no response from the Army and I landed up in Poona with a permanent posting to a unit that was booked for the inevitable invasion of Malaya. They were an anti-aircraft unit (  9th Rajputana Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment) but with 40mm Bofors light guns, not the heavy guns I had been used to. Their task was to put these guns, self-propelled, on the back of Morris trucks down on the invasion beach and protect the invading troops from low-flying Japanese aircraft. 

So here I was with guns I knew nothing about, with troops whose language I couldn’t speak and who had already completed their combined operations training. The prospect was not attractive. However, some progress was made learning Urdu and some knowledge of the guns added to a hope that things might turn out all right in the end.”

The training and preparation for the invasion continued even as Burma was retaken though the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki leading to the surrender of Japan in August 1945 meant a change in plans. Operation Zipper was never fully executed and 34th Corps was now to carry out the operation as a reoccupation force and not as an invasion force. One battery of 9th Rajputana LAA Regiment was to accompany the reoccupation force for any eventuality and the AA guns, trucks and equipment were waterproofed for the operations and sent to Bombay to be loaded on the ships. As Captain Finn recalled: –

“We had waterproofed the trucks and equipment, had sent them to Bombay harbour to be loaded on the ships and were ourselves preparing to embark soon with the date for the invasion set, as I later found out, for September 9th. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs ended the war on August 15th , about a week before we were due to set sail. In the end we sent one battery of about 250 men who were all Punjabi Mussulmen (Muslims) to do the landing and the two Rajput batteries stayed in India.”

In early September 1945, the convoys of 34 Corps set sail for the designated landing beaches in the Port Swettenham-Port Dickson area and the first landing was carried out at Morib beaches on 9 September by 25th Indian Division and at beaches of Sepang by troops of 23rd Division.  No Japanese resistance was encountered. The operation was a success- the last operation in which Indian AA artillery participated in 1945. The honour to do so was of 9 Rajputana LAA Regiment.

Two Batteries of the Regiment had stayed back in India and with the new year came another change for the Regiment.

Part of A and B Troops of the 11th Battery of the 9th Rajputana Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Indian Artillery, whilst on Scheme near Poona in January 1946

9th Rajputana LAA  Regiment was to be disbanded and the British OR (BOR) merged with 6th Punjab LAA Regiment. The BOR moved by road from Gulanche to their new location, first setting up a temporary HQ at Wah, West Punjab and then locating to Mansar where they joined 6 Punjab LAA Regiment.

6 Punjab LAA Regiment on its part had been raised on 15 February 1942 at Waldinadi on conversion of 8th battalion of 1stPUNJAB with RHQ, 19, 20 and 21 LAA Batteries. It first served as part of 3rd AA Brigade in peninsular India before coming under command of 13th AA Brigade in East Bengal. Later it was part of 24th AA Brigade, RA in support of 15 Corps.

After the war, 6 Punjab LAA Regiment was earmarked for conversion to an airborne role and was accordingly designated as 6 Punjab Para LAA Regiment and later as 28 Para LAA Regiment. The BOR of 9 Rajputana LAA Regiment were absorbed in the Regiment though by this time repatriation of BOR had also started.

The Regiment underwent training for its new role but as no suitable gun could be identified, it was decided to disband the Regimnet.

Just a month after independence, 28 Para LAA Regiment was disbanded at Mathura in September 1947 and with it came an end not only to 6 Punjab LAA Regiment but also to a short but eventful history of 9 Rajputana LAA Regiment, RIA.