top of page

Associated Units

All of the Following Units were

closely associated with 36 Regiment RA

457 Heavy Air Defence Regiment (TA)

Royal Artillery


457 Heavy Air Defence Regiment were a Territorial Regiment that were affiliated to

37 Heavy Air Defence Regiment. The Regiment has the distinction of firing the very last

Thunderbird 1 Missiles at Ty Croes, Angelsey.


The Regiment was based at Portsmouth and was disbanded in April 1967.


I am grateful to ex Troop Commander Godfrey Doyle for this brief history of the Regiment.


A brief history of

457 (Wessex) Heavy Air Defence Regiment Royal Artillery (Territorial Army)

Hampshire Carabiniers Yeomanry 1860 - 1967


On 5th May 1860, with the approval of the Lord Lieutenant of the County, a Corps of Artillery Volunteers

(Garrison) was formed in Bishop Street, Portsea, with the object of defending the Royal Dockyard

 against foreign invasion. Known as the 2nd. Hampshire Artillery Volunteers it recruited over

two hundred volunteers in its first year.


During the second half of the nineteenth century the Corps was armed with a number of weapons,

varying from the 32 pounder firing round shot to the 11inch muzzleloader,


The Headquarters used by the Regiment until its demise in 1967 was opened in St Paul's Road Portsmouth

in 1898 by General Sir George Willis when the Corps comprised of eight companies at the Headquarters

and additional companies in Cosham, which is just to the north of Portsea Island and Gosport on the

other side of Portsmouth Harbour, where batteries were maintained until 1967.


On the outbreak of the South African War the Corps - then known as the

2nd. Hants Garrison Artillery - recruited to a strength of 1,100 men.


1908 saw the formation of the Territorial Army and the Corps became the 1 st. Wessex Brigade

RFA (T), with Batteries in Portsmouth and Gosport.


On the outbreak of the First World War the brigade was mobilised and left England for India in

 October 1914.  The Brigade - now the 215 th. Brigade RFA - went into action against the Turks for the

first time on 11th December 1916.  For the remainder of the campaign the brigade was continually in action,

gaining forty-five awards for gallantry.


Reconstituted in 1922 as the 54 th (Wessex) Field Brigade RA the Regiment changed its role in 1932 to

Heavy Anti Aircraft and became 57 th. (Wessex) HAA Regiment RA (TA).


Following its Annual Practice Camp in 1939, the Regiment was embodied and served in the air

defence of Portsmouth. On 10th March 1941, the Regiment was actively engaged in defending the

Naval Dockyard against air attacks over several nights.  In one four-hour engagement 1,421 rounds were fired.  

Following the destruction of a command post fire control was exercised from a trestle table illuminated by a

hurricane lamp using graphic range tables and measuring the fuses with a length of string.


Later in 1941 when it was sent overseas and fought with the Vlll th Army through the Desert and Italian

Campaigns gaining forty-three awards for gallantry.


In 1947 the Regiment was again reconstituted as 457 (Wessex) HAA Regiment RA (TA).


On the disbandment of Anti-Aircraft Command in 1955, 428 HAA Regiment RA (TA) The Princess Beatrice

Isle of Wight Rifles, whose Honorary Colonel was Admiral of the Fleet the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, amalgamated

with 457 Regiment and became P Battery with Q Battery in Cosham and R Battery in Gosport while the Headquarters

 remained at St Paul's Road. There was also a troop in Southampton in the Drill Hall now occupied by 457 Battery.


On 30th April the Regiment celebrated its Centenary with a Regimental Parade in Portsmouth at

which Lord Mountbatten took the salute.


The advances in the delivery of an Air Defence capability were demonstrated on this parade by the participation of

two Thunderbird missiles from the then School of Anti Aircraft Artillery at Manorbier.


The Regiment was now preparing to change from guns to Thunderbird Mark 1 and was reconstituted as

457 (Wessex) Heavy Air Defence Regiment RA (TA) in 1962.  P Battery on the Isle of Wight became

Headquarters Battery and R Battery was re-titled P Battery and with Q Battery in Cosham became the two

firing batteries. The Regiment formed part of the new 33 Artillery Brigade that included one other Territorial Army

Thunderbird Regiment and a 40/70 Regiment based in London.


Besides this change of role the Regiment also incorporated the title Hampshire Carabiniers Yeomanry.  

This regiment was in suspended animation. This title is also incorporated into the title of 457 Battery.


This gave the Regiment the longest title in the army as set out in the heading of this summary.  The Headquarters

 Battery enjoyed the longest sub unit title by the addition of the words Princess Beatrice Isle of Wight Rifles.


In 1965, the Regiment had the honour of providing a Royal Guard of Honour for the Queen when

Lord Mountbatten of Burma was installed as Governor of the Isle of Wight.


The state of training peaked that by 1965 the Regiment was pronounced ready to engage in a live

firing of Thunderbird.  Adverse weather on the range delayed the Regiment completing this until 1966,

when it fired the last three Thunderbird Mark 1 missiles in the UK.


On 31st March 1967 the Regiment was disbanbanded on the demise of the Territorial Army.


The Territorial Battery equipped with HVM based in Southampton now incorporates 457 in its title.


I am also grateful to the late Sir Peter Viggers

for the following information and Photo's


Peter joined P Battery 457 Regiment in 1963, having previously been a pilot in the Royal Air Force

for his National Service. He was promoted to Captain and commanded the Firing Troop. P Battery fired three

Thunderbirds at Ty Croes during Summer Camp in 1966. As Battery Captain he fired the first Thunderbird ever to be

fired by a TA Officer. As we all know the plan is to miss the Drone target, but on this occasion the gyros in the missile

 failed to tumble; the ground controller failed to divert the Drone Meteor and the said Meteor was shot down.


The following day Peter was allowed to lead a four plane Gnat formation from RAF Valley. Captain Ted Cogswell

fired the second TA Thunderbird the following day, but unfortunately it went adrift and entered the sea about half

 a mile away. A day later Peter fired the last Thunderbird which was another successful firing.


On two occasions 457 Regiment came to Germany to join 36 Regiment for Exercise Armed Horse. This was the major

Exercise of the year and as a TA Officer Peter was allowed to command the Firing Troop of 36 Regiment.


Thunderbird 1 on Display coming into Action


Launcher No1


324 Heavy Air Defence Regiment RA (TA)


I have found information that this Regiment was also equipped with Thunderbird 1

Missiles and Equipment.The Regiment was based at Gosforth and took it's title from

the 18th March 1964. In 1967 it became the HQ Battery of

101 (Northumberland) Regiment RA (V).


6 Squadron

Royal Corps of Transport


My thanks to George Frost for these photos.

The Royal Corps of Transport

a Short History


Raised in 1794 as the Royal Waggoners the Corps became the Land Transport Corps

 in 1855, the Army Service Corps in 1869, the Royal Army Service Corps in 1918, and the

Royal Corps of Transport in 1965. Headquartered in Buller Barracks, Aldershot, the R.C.T.

was amalgamated into the Royal Logistic Corps.


Battle Honours: Peninsular; Waterloo; Lucknow; Takus Forts; and Pekin.

The R.C.T. has five Victoria Crosses and one George Cross.


Regimental march - "Wait for the Wagon".

February 1965 - February 1970


6 Squadron moved to Dortmund as a three platoon company and

was  redesignated 6 Squadron Royal Corps of Transport in 1965.


The Squadron moved into Glamorgan Barracks, Duisburg in 1967 in support of 7th Artillery Brigade

and were responsible for the resupply of Thunderbird Missile's to 36 Heavy Air Defence Regiment.


My thanks go to Dave Skitt, a past member of the Squadron for the Squadron History and a copy of

his Photo collection. I am also grateful to George Frost for the use of some of his collection.

These photos can be found on our Facebook Page under Albums.

bottom of page