Tring & District Local History & Museum Society
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1st HAA TRACTOR BATTERY - PENDLEY MANOR TRING Page 1 of 2
The reminiscences of Cyril Phillips . . .
During World War 2, I was stationed at Pendley Manor, Tring, working with 1st HAA Tractor Battery. HHA stood for Heavy Anti-Aircraft. It was known as ‘Tractor’ by the Home Defence, and developed because as the War progressed there was a need for a unit equipped with heavy transport capable of transporting 3.7 inch and 4,5-inch heavy anti-aircraft guns and support equipment.
The Unit was commanded by Capt. D Thomas and Lieut. Travis, a unit clerk. The unit was about sixty men and included several NCO’s drivers, mechanics and a cook and was established in Tring which had easy access to London and Southern England. There were five in the UK. The others were located in Gloucester, Potterton Hall near Leeds, Warrington and one near Edinburgh in Scotland. This gave sufficient cover for the all the Anti-Aircraft Gun Sites in the UK. At the Pendley base we looked after the maintenance of both lorries and gun transporters.
Each anti-aircraft site had four guns, Radar cabins and generators which required attention either through enemy action, routine maintenance or replacement. We would leave Tring with four lorries and transporters to go to any part of the UK. A senior driver would be in charge of the detachment. For example, when one of the many gun sites around London had been bombed, we would collect guns or other equipment from Mill Hill where there was an ordnance and repair depot, and with the help of Royal Electrical Mechanical engineers, get the site up and running again.
The Battery was equipped with 4 by 4 AEC Matadors and Purpose-Built
Transporters. The men in the photo are turning the wheels that operate
the jacks lowering the gun on the steel frame
secured in the ground. The man with the large
spanner (Circled) will remove all the bolts that
hold the gun base to the transporter.We could
be away for weeks on end all over the UK.
Apart from observing the lorries and transporters coming and going, I don’t think Tring residents had much idea what we did. I am aware many Tring residents asked questions to which they did not get answers.
Mrs Williams (owner of Pendley Manor) was not best pleased to have the unit on her land. I suppose it was not surprising; with sixty or more lorries all over the place in the woods. During bad weather the ground was a bit of a mess to say the least.
We could be away from Tring for days if not weeks, hence the reason for someone responsible or in charge. Whilst I joined the Royal Artillery as a Driver, before Army service I was a Motor Mechanic Apprentice. I qualified as a Driver/Mechanic and transferred to Royal Electric Mechanical engineers, prior to joining the unit at Tring. It would be the responsibility of the person in charge to attend any breakdowns.