HISTORY



First Plaque Commemorating the Skylighters Placed!
Where? — Searchlight Site TT114 ("Link House"), Blyth, Northumberland, England
When? — Tuesday, May 13, 2003, 10:30 a.m. GMT


PLAQUE SITE

David J. Anderson, local historian (left) and Nigel Walsh, Blyth Valley Council (right), pictured at the former British antiaircraft site (known as TT114, aka "Link House"), where the plaque held by Mr. Anderson was placed on Tuesday, May 13, 2003 at 10:30 a.m. GMT, nearly 60 years after the 225th left the area for final staging prior to their landing at Omaha Beach in mid-June 1944. The site, overlooking the North Sea and a common approach route for German aircraft based in Norway sent to attack the greater Newcastle area, was occupied by one of the 225th's searchlight sections as they trained for the invasion of Europe and participated in the Air Defense of Great Britain. The text of the plaque appears below. Photo courtesy Blyth Valley Council.


THE 225th AAA SEARCHLIGHT BATTALION
"The Skylighters"


This plaque is dedicated to the 827 men of the 225th Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion of the U.S. Army, who arrived at this location in early March 1944 and were attached to the 30th British AAA Brigade. Here, we sharpened our skills in the high-altitude tracking of aircraft.

Our stay in this part of England was marked by a gracious acceptance by the local population that greatly helped us in our mission as part of the Air Defence of Great Britain and to gain the knowledge we needed.

The battalion left in late May to prepare for our landings on Omaha Beach between 11 and 17 June 1944 as part of the invasion of Europe. We were the first searchlight battalion to land on the Continent, and as part of the defence of the Normandy beachhead we engaged 26 aircraft and gave valuable early warning to the Allied forces.

In early August, we were attached to the 422nd and 425th Night Fighter Squadrons of the 9th U.S. Air Force, and in this capacity we provided over 4,000 homings and light canopies that saved countless planes and pilots lost over the dark skies of Europe.

We received partial credit for downing thirty V-1 rockets and aircraft.

The battalion was deployed in as many as three countries at once and ended the war deep inside Germany. After V-E Day, we started training for redeployment to the Pacific Theatre, but the quick end to hostilities there left us as part of the Army of Occupation in Bavaria.

The 225th left Europe in early December 1945 and the battalion was disbanded. We will always be grateful for the help given to us by the local population.

Dedicated 13 May 2003
Blyth Valley Council
225th AAA Searchlight Bn Veterans Association
History & Research by David J. Anderson



Plaque location viewed from the air. Postcard courtesy Blyth Valley Borough Council; annotations by the Webmaster.


South Beach in the area of the promenade. Note that the white structures still in situ comprising the old AA site known as TT114 are visible in the background. Photo courtesy Pictures of Blyth.


The plaque affixed to its pedestal, which is part of a stone balustrade along the promenade; the same balustrade appears in the background of the photo above. Photo courtesy David Anderson.



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