UNIT HISTORY



Six Months in Newcastle
Upon arrival , the battalion headquarters, Headquarters Battery and Battery "A" Headquarters, moved into Debdon Gardens, a British drill hall, while the searchlight sections again took up individual positions on an extended grid. Battery "B" Headquarters moved into Marsden Hall and Battery "C" Headquarters into Urpeth Lodge. The sections were quartered in sites recently vacated by a British searchlight regiment.

NEWCASTLE BRIDGES
The famed pair of bridges over the Tyne at Newcastle as they look today.
In the foreground, the railroad bridge; in the right background, the arched
road bridge. (Photo courtesy University of Newcastle.)

Upon its arrival at Newcastle-on-Tyne, the battalion was attached to the 30th AAA Brigade (British) for operation control. Under the 30th AAA Brigade, the battalion was assigned an operational role in the air defense of Great Britain, having as its mission the detection and illumination of enemy aircraft and the homing of friendly aircraft. These homings were performed according to the British technique of having searchlights indicate the location of airstrips to friendly planes by pointing in the direction of the airstrip and alternately lowering and raising the beam. This technique, which was new to the battalion at the time, was later used, with some modifications, in a number of homings on the Continent. While at Newcastle-on-Tyne, it was used successfully several times, and the battalion was credited with being of great assistance in the landing of several British planes. Expressions of praise and thanks for this assistance were received from British officials. Although the battalion was alerted on several occasions when long-range warning sets picked up approaching enemy aircraft, no enemy craft were actually engaged by the battalion while at Newcastle-on-Tyne, for on each occasion, the hostile planes turned off to the south before coming within range.

BRITISH RADAR UNIT
The British AAA units had a lot to teach the Americans about the operational
use of radar. Here, a British 90-cm searchlight is shown with a Searchlight
Control (SLC) AA No. 2 Mk 7 radar with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF)
Mk 3 aerials. The radar enabled the searchlight to track enemy aircraft
accurately for visually directed AA fire. (Photo courtesy IWM.)

In addition to its operational role during this period, the battalion continued intensive training for its anticipated mission on the Continent. Some emphasis was still placed on Fighter-Searchlight tactics, but the greatest part of the training while at Newcastle-on-Tyne stressed the use of searchlights to illuminate targets for AAA guns. During the last month of the battalion's stay at this location, one battery was given training in the illumination of low-flying targets for automatic weapons fire, including the use of the spread beam and the pickup of planes by the unaided ear, the first training of this type which had been made available to the battalion. The setup for training at Newcastle-on-Tyne was ideal. Target planes were easily available and the weather, on the whole, was good. In addition, "Bullseyes," or exercises in which large numbers of planes (on some occasions as many as several hundred) fly across the area in imitation of a mass raid, were frequently made available.

NEWCASTLE BROWN ALE LABEL

The 1940s vintage label from bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale,
a favorite libation of the 225th. (Photo courtesy Broonale.)

During the major portion of the battalion's stay at Newcastle-on-Tyne, it was the only American Army organization stationed in the immediate area, and, as a consequence, both British military personnel and civilians made all-out efforts to entertain and cultivate the personnel of the battalion. Numerous dinners, dances, and receptions were given in honor of our troops and many lasting friendships were formed between the American soldiers and the citizens of Newcastle-on-Tyne.

FULWELL MILL
Fullwell Mill, built in the early 1800s and restored in the 1980s,
was near a Battery B position. (Photo courtesy Sunderland University.)

The battalion was widely dispersed across the Newcastle area, with various elements at the following sites, by battery. Battery A: Drill Hall, Debdon Gardens, Heaton; Link House; New Deleval; Crag Point; Seahill Colliery; Seaton Burn; Brenkley; Plessey Mill; Palmersville; Sharpness; Billy Mill; Armstrong Park; and Gosforth. Battery B: Marsden Hall, Harton, Frenchman's Bay, Whitburn, Fulwell, Cleadon, Hebburn, Seaham Harbour, Hawthorn, Easington Lane, Houghton-le-Spring, North Moor, and Ryhope Road. Battery C: Urpeth Lodge, Birthley; Springwell; Biddick Hall; Waldridge Drift; Ouston; Vosworth RAF; Beamish Park; High Spen; Tyne "G"; Ravensworth; Great Lumley; and Tanfield. (A Battery Operations and C Battery Administration were at Benwell, Ryton, Wolsington, and Smuggler's Cove.)

MARSDEN
The cliffs at Marsden, a site occupied by Battery B during the battalion's
stay in the Newcastle area. (Photo courtesy Sunderland University.)

On 13 May 1944, the 1401st Searchlight Engineer Maintenance Section, consisting of three enlisted men, was attached to the battalion.

RYHOPE
The Ryhope water pumping station, near another
Battery B position. (Photo courtesy Sunderland University.)

Late in May, the battalion was alerted for movement and moved into consolidated battery positions. On 2 June, orders were received to proceed to a concentration area, and on 3 June approximately one-half of the battalion left by train, arrived at Salisbury in the early evening and proceeding from there by truck to Druid's Lodge, a concentration area about seven miles north of Salisbury. The remainder of the battalion began the journey by motor convoy on 4 June, arriving at Druid's Lodge on the night of the 5th of June. A few hours after the arrival of the motor convoy, personnel of the battalion were awakened by the roar of the motors of the aerial armada which was launching the Normandy invasion.


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