158 Parachute Field Regiment RA was formed from the reorganisation and redesignation of 23 Parachute LAA/Anti-Tank Regiment RA in February 1946.
The surrender of the Japanese prompted the reorganisation and relocation of units within 44 Indian Airborne Division in late 1945, which was renamed as 2 Indian Airborne Division.
As a result 159 Parachute Light Regiment moved to Malir (in the Sindh Desert, near Karachi) and 23 Regiment followed in early 1946.
After these moves 159 Regiment gave up its 25-pounders, retaining only the light howitzers. 23 Regiment took over the 25-pounder role from 159 Regiment, gave up all the other armaments, and was re-titled 158 Parachute Field Regiment RA. At the same time, the regiment's batteries were assigned the old battery numbers of 158 Field Regiment (581, 582 and 583).
Another effect of the reorganisation, following the decision to 'nationalise' the division with Indian personnel, was the transfer of British units, including 23 Regiment/158 Regiment, to 6 (British) Independent Parachute Brigade by the end of 1945.
In early 1947, with Indian independence only a few months away, the redeployment or disbandment of 159 Parachute Light Regiment and 158 Parachute Field Regiment, the two remaining regiments of the divisional artillery of 2nd Indian Airborne Division, was clearly imminent.
In both regiments the repatriation of wartime soldiers was still a steady source of wastage; also a significant number of officers and senior NCOs were transferring to Indian Artillery units – the new Indian Army was enthusiastically forming a parachute artillery capability which had not formerly existed in Indian Airborne Forces. The remainder of the two regiments amalgamated to make one full strength regiment, earmarked to join 6th Airborne Division in Palestine as the third regiment of the divisional artillery.
The majority of the amalgamated regiment came from 159 Regiment, including the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel M I Gregson, MBE. 159 Regiment’s RHQ remained intact and organized the amalgamation and the move to Palestine. Two of the three Battery Commanders came from 158 Regiment. The amalgamated regiment continued to be titled 159 Parachute Light Regiment until shortly after its arrival in Palestine some weeks later for internal security duties with 6th Airborne Division.
There is no record of the unit taking part in operations during its existence.
Lt Colonel V E de S Le Marchant
Compiled with the assistance of Brigadier Arthur Sisson.
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