by H. J. C. Spencer -
Avenger Pilot, 853 Naval Air Squadron.
Grumman Avenger three seat torpedo
bombers of 853 naval air squadron.
The Squadron was formed on the 4th of
December 1943 at the United States Naval Air Station
near Boston in the USA. The Commanding Officer was Lt Cdr (A) N.G.
Haigh RNVR, the Senior Observer Lt E. J. Treloar RN, and the Senior
Pilot Lt (A) M.W.S. Jones RNVR. Only four of the other 19 squadron
officers had had previous squadron experience. The others were
pilots who had just completed their training with the US Navy at
Pensacola and Fort Lauderdale, and observers who had recently
finished their training in
Trinidad. The squadron complement
also included 13 Telegraphist-Air-Gunners and a ground staff of 107
Petty Officers and ratings with an RAF Flight Sergeant in charge.
The squadron took delivery of twelve new Grumman Avenger TBR Torpedo
Bombers. The flying personnel were organised to form thirteen crews,
twelve being assigned their own aircraft with one a spare crew.
Squadron Work Up at USNAS Squantum
squadron flew for the first time on the 6th December 1943 and flew
intensively during its 12-week stay at Squantum. The flying training
embraced all the many aspects of the work of torpedo bomber
reconnaissance squadrons. A total of 874 sorties were flown,
including 162 at night. Flying time in excess of 1,250 hours was
recorded. This was achieved in spite of intense cold which made it
very difficult to start the engines. On occasions the sea in Boston
Bay froze over. The only days when flying was not programmed in the
12 weeks were Christmas Day, New Year's Day and one Sunday.
of the training was in deck landing, and during the work-up the
squadron flew to Norfolk, Virginia, and all the pilots completed
four deck landings each on the USS Charger in Chesapeake Bay. The
squadron suffered casualties during the work-up. On only the second
day of flying one aircraft crashed into the sea while carrying out a
dummy torpedo attack in formation, and the crew of three were lost.
Two other aircraft were damaged in other accidents. One was written
off in a heavy landing at Squantum and another made a wheels-up
landing, at night, on a frozen lake after loss of power due to
Flight To Vancouver
end of the work-up the squadron moved to Vancouver, British
Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, in preparation for embarking
on an Escort Carrier. The aircraft flew to Vancouver following the
normal aircraft ferry route, which was south to the Mexican border,
through the Rocky Mountains and then up the west coast of America. A
ground party travelled by train with the squadron stores. The flight
to Vancouver, which started on the 1st March 1944, did not go
smoothly. The first mishap occurred on the second day when the
squadron landed at Shreveport, Louisiana. One aircraft was badly
damaged on landing and a crew had to return to New York to obtain a
replacement. The remaining 11 aircraft continued on the flight. The
next problems arose at El Paso, Texas. Here one aircraft was found
to have engine defects and another swerved off the runway into soft
sand on take-off and was damaged. These aircraft were left to be
repaired and to await the replacement aircraft from New York before
continuing their flight. On the flight from Tucson one aircraft had
to make a forced landing because of an oil leak, but this was
corrected and the nine aircraft arrived safely at Los Angeles. On
the flight from Los Angeles, however, another aircraft developed a
defect and had to make a forced landing. Unfortunately, the
emergency airfield used was extremely muddy and the aircraft and the
other two in the sub-flight, which landed to give assistance, became
bogged down. It was two days before the three aircraft were
extricated from the mud and followed the others.
meantime the leading six aircraft had reached Redding, California,
but had then become weather-bound. The three aircraft over flew
Redding and the six on the ground took off without clearance to
follow them. The nine aircraft were reunited at Portland, Oregon,
and flew on together to Vancouver which they reached on the 10th
March, nine days after they had started out from Squantum. The
remaining three aircraft, the new one to replace the one written off
at Shreveport and the two left at El Paso to be repaired, eventually
arrived at Vancouver on the 19th. The ground party had arrived at
Vancouver on the 4th of March after a gruelling four-day journey in
which they had hardly left the train.
squadron stayed ashore at the RCAF airfield at Sea Island for about
four weeks, during which the aircraft were repaired from the ravages
of the flight from Squantum and the crews prepared to fly on to HMS
ARBITER which was in port at Vancouver.
squadron aircraft successfully landed-on
on the 4/5th of April 1944. The ship then sailed for San Diego which
it reached on the 9th. ARBITER put to sea on the 11th for flying
exercises and squadron aircraft made 12 sorties without incident
before flying was curtailed by high winds and the ship returned to
San Diego on the 13th. ARBITER sailed for the Panama Canal on the
17th of April. During passage to Balboa flying was restricted by
weather conditions, the wind being first too strong and then too
weak. However, squadron aircraft made fourteen training sorties. Two
accidents occurred during these. One aircraft crashed into the
ship's â€˜island' when landing-on and another put a wheel into the
port catwalk. Shortly before arriving at Balboa the ship's engines
broke down and she had to be towed into port.
took eight days to repair the ship's engines. When this had been
done she passed through the Canal to Cristobal and sailed for
Norfolk, Virginia. On passage to Norfolk the squadron resumed
flying. After five training sorties had been flown the wind strength
fell, and when aircraft were launched for a second exercise the
second to take off stalled and crashed into the sea on the port
side. The crew were rescued by the escort, USS Rehobarth, but the
observer was seriously injured. Flying was resumed on the following
day, but after six training sorties had been completed the ship was
found to have salt water in the boilers. The engines were stopped
and she was towed into the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
On the 15th of May, after the ship's engines had been repaired, she
sailed for Norfolk but without an escort so no flying was possible.
After a two-week stay in Norfolk, during which some of the squadron
took leave, the ship sailed on to New York, arriving on the 31st.
In New York the ship took on a deck cargo of Corsairs which
prevented any further flying. â€œDâ€ Day was spent in New York and
on the 6th June 1944 the ship sailed in convoy for the UK, arriving
at the King George V dock in Glasgow on the 20th of June.
aircraft were unloaded by crane at the King George V dock and towed
to the nearby Renfrew airfield, from where they were flown to RNAS
Machrihanish. A ground party and stores were taken to Machrihanish
by road. The squadron then went on fourteen days' leave.
return from leave on the 8th July 1944 the squadron moved
temporarily to RNAS Maydown in Northern Ireland for an anti-U-boat
course. This involved twelve days of morning lectures with flying in
the afternoons and at night. Sixty training sorties were flown from
Maydown. There was one accident, an aircraft landing with its wheels
up. Damage was slight and there were no injuries.
return to Machrihanish the squadron embarked upon an intensive
programme of anti-submarine bombing, both by day and at night using
flares to illuminate targets. Nearly 350 sorties were flown, 60 at
night, without incident. During the stay at Machrihanish the
squadron contributed to a flying programme arranged for the benefit
of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and it was complemented for its
formation flying and its air discipline. On the 29th of August the
number of aircraft in the squadron was reduced to nine and three
crews and their aircraft were transferred to other squadrons.
squadron aircraft flew aboard
HMS TRACKER on the 12 September
1944, a ground party with the stores having embarked the previous
day, and on the 17th four Wildcats landed on to join the squadron.
For three weeks the squadron flew intensively from TRACKER on a
joint work-up programme with the ship. All pilots re-qualified at
deck landing on the ship, both by day and at night. The emphasis was
on anti-submarine exercises. Over one hundred and fifty training
sorties were completed without major incident. The ship was twice
visited by FOCT (Flag Officer, Carrier Training), Vice Admiral
Lyster, and his staff to observe progress.
work-up with the ship completed, and the squadron flew ashore to
RNAS Machrihanish for further flying and for compass swinging and
maintenance prior to final embarkation on the ship. The squadron's
complement of aircraft was increased to eleven Avengers and five
Wildcats. On the 14th of October the squadron flew back aboard HMS
TRACKER off Holy Island and the ship sailed for Scapa Flow in
company with HMS VINDEX and NAIRANA and screened by a surface
escort. The squadron made its first operational sortie when an
Avenger flew an anti U-boat patrol as the force sailed through the
HMS TRACKER under way with
Avengers and Wildcats parked on her flight deck.
Escort Of Convoy RA 61
TRACKER sailed from Scapa Flow on the 21st of October 1944 in
VINDEX (811 Squadron),
(835 Squadron) and DIDO to escort a convoy of merchant ships and
submarine chasers to Murmansk. The convoy, which was joined on the
23rd , had a surface escort of five escort groups. The carriers took
turns to be duty carrier, TRACKER with its Avengers covering the
daylight hours from 0630 and the other carriers with Swordfish
covering the hours of darkness. Normally two Avengers were
maintained on patrol during duty periods, with Wildcats being
scrambled to investigate radar contacts as they occurred.
27th D/F bearings indicated that five U-boats were in the vicinity
and three additional Avengers were launched on a close search. At
1118 one of 853's Avengers surprised a 510 ton U-boat on the
surface. As the Avenger was armed with an acoustic homing depth
charge it circled the U-boat and sent a sighting report. TRACKER
turned into wind to launch its strike force of two Avengers and two
Wildcats which were manned and at instant readiness on deck.
However, when the sighting Avenger had completed one orbit of the
U-boat it commenced to dive. The Avenger immediately dropped its
homing depth charge ahead of the swirl left by the U-boat but the
expected explosion did not occur. When the U-boat submerged the
launch of the strike force was cancelled. The sighting Avenger
marked the position and waited for the surface escort to arrive and
take over the hunt. When the Avenger landed on it was found that the
depth charge had been dropped "safe" because of a short circuit in
the wiring of the arming device in the bomb bay.
TRACKER arrived in Kola Inlet leading to Murmansk on the 28th of
October and anchored in Vaenga Bay. It remained there for four days.
While it was in port the Red Navy Choir gave a concert in the ship's
hangar to an audience from TRACKER and the escorts.
TRACKER sailed from the Kola Inlet on the 2nd of November to escort
a homeward bound convoy. The squadron started to fly patrols
immediately, three aircraft being maintained on patrol on the 3rd
and fourteen sorties being flown during the day. Four aircraft
landed on in the dark. One of the Avengers sighted a diving U-boat
but it was not near enough to attack. The position was marked and
the hunt taken over by surface escorts. There was insufficient wind
to operate Avengers on two of the next five days, and on these
TRACKER's turn as duty carrier was taken over by NAIRANA. On the
other days TRACKER's Avengers flew eighteen patrols. One Wildcat was
flown-off to investigate a bogey which proved to be an Avenger with
a faulty IFF. The ship arrived at Scapa Flow on the 9th and then
proceeded to the Clyde where it arrived on the 11th . The squadron
then went on ten days' leave.
return from leave the squadron left TRACKER, the aircraft flying off
to RNAS Hatston, in the Orkneys, via Machrihanish. During its stay
on TRACKER the squadron had made 136 deck landings, 19 of them at
Grumman Avenger on its take off
run from HMS TRACKER.
The squadron aircraft arrived at Hatston on the 4th of December
1944, and a ground party with the stores arrived two days' later
after a gruelling journey. While at Hatston the squadron was granted
ten days' leave with three days' travelling time. Half the squadron
took the leave up to and including Christmas, and the other half
took it in the New Year. During the stay at Hatston 132 training
sorties were flown by the Avengers and Wildcats. Over the Christmas
period U-boats were reported to be operating inshore, and the
squadron Avengers flew 30 operational dawn and dusk patrols. Four
Wildcats were loaned to
HMS PREMIER to provide top cover
for an operation inside the Norwegian minefields.
Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Haigh, was appointed CO of 765 Squadron
NOTU (Naval Operational Training Unit) and Lt Cdr (A) J.M. Glaser
was appointed as the new CO. The command was formally handed over on
the 19th December. The new CO was an observer and an additional
pilot was appointed to the squadron to compensate for this. On the
21st the squadron Avenger complement was reduced to eight. In the
New Year a number of other changes in personnel were made with some
officers being relieved from front line flying and others leaving
for long training courses. Among those relieved from front line
flying was the Senior Pilot. Lt Jones and his responsibilities were
taken over by Lt Sailes.
18th of January 1945 arrangements were put in hand for the squadron
to embark on its next ship,
HMS QUEEN, and a ground party with
stores was embarked on the 21st. The eight Avengers were to fly to
RNAS Ayr to fly on in the Firth of Clyde but the move was delayed by
bad weather. Three Avengers flew to Ayr by the east coast route and
arrived on the 24th but the others, flying by the west coast, were
driven back by heavy snow storms and next day flew by the east coast
as far as
RNAS Arbroath. There they were joined by two Wildcats
returning from a loan to
HMS CAMPANIA. One of the Wildcats
burst a tyre on landing at Arbroath and ended up in a six-foot
snowdrift with severe damage to the undercarriage. The aircraft from
Arbroath eventually arrived at Ayr on the 27th, where they joined up
with those already there and flew aboard QUEEN.
Immediately on joining QUEEN the pilots re-qualified at deck landing
and all the Avenger pilots completed four night landings each. The
usual anti-U-boat exercises were then carried out, supplemented by
simulated torpedo attacks on the ship by Avengers, and the Wildcats
made interceptions. FOCT was flown aboard to witness the exercises.
Later a further series of training sorties was flown with the
emphasis on mine laying. Many of the flights were at night and they
included boosted take-offs in the dark. All told 77 sorties were
flown by Avengers in this part of the work-up. In addition 29
Wildcat sorties were also flown on a variety of exercises. In the
course of these one Wildcat was lost overboard. The tie-back ring
broke prematurely when the aircraft was being boosted and the
aircraft trickled over the bow into the sea. The pilot was picked up
15th of February FOCT was flown aboard again to witness a simulated
mine laying operation. That night 6 Avengers were launched,
simulated laying mines between the Isle of Man and Calf of Man and
were recovered. At the conclusion of this exercise the squadron went
on ten days' leave.
squadron resumed flying from QUEEN on return from leave with newly
joined pilots doing deck landings. In the course of these one
Wildcat missed all the wires and crashed into the barriers. There
were no casualties. Twelve Avenger training sorties were also flown.
QUEEN sailed for Scapa Flow on the 2nd March 1945 and squadron
Avengers flew six patrols on passage. Three Wildcats flew onto the
ship in the Flow, bringing the Squadron complement to nine Avengers
and eight Wildcats. The new Wildcat pilots carried out qualifying
deck landings. With QUEEN operating within the Flow, 33 Avenger and
22 Wildcat training sorties were flown including formation mine
laying exercises, escorts and interceptions.
Grumman Avenger caches the
arrestor wire landing on HMS QUEEN.
19th March 1945 HMS QUEEN sailed from Scapa Flow in company with
SEARCHER, BELLONA and with a surface escort to take part
in operation CUPOLA. The objective was for 846 Squadron Avengers on
PREMIER to lay mines off the Norge Coast of Norway with 882 Squadron
Wildcats from SEARCHER providing anti U-boat patrols and fighter
cover for the carrier force. The operation was carried out on the
20th with the QUEEN launching two Avengers and two Wildcats. The
weather deteriorated and when they were recovered the wind had
reached 40 knots on the surface and 60 knots over the deck. Both the
Wildcats were damaged on landing, one hitting the barrier and the
other having its undercarriage collapse. One Avenger was diverted to
PREMIER and burst both tyres on landing. The force returned to Scapa
Flow on the 21st .
Operations PREFIX And CAREFREE
sailed from Scapa Flow on the 24th March 1945 in company with
BELLONA, DIDO, SEARCHER, NAIRANA,
PUNCHER and with a surface escort,
with the objective of striking at enemy shipping in the Norwegian
Leads. Four squadron Wildcats were launched on the 24th to intercept
a bogey but it proved friendly. Nine 853 Squadron Avengers were
boosted off on the 26th armed with four 500lb bombs each. Flying at
low level they made a landfall at Suven lighthouse and climbed to
4,000 feet to fly down the leads. Intelligence had indicated that
two enemy convoys generally met east of the Island of Smolen at 1100
and the squadron was to bomb the northbound one. No shipping was
sighted, however, and the alternative target of coastal guns and
flak positions on the Island of Smolen could not be located either.
The squadron jettisoned its bombs in the Leads before returning to
the ship. Wildcats of the escort intercepted nine Me 109's which
were climbing to intercept the Avengers, and claimed to have shot
down three and damaged one.
Wildcats flew top cover for the carrier force. The ships stood off
the coast on the 27th with the squadron's Avengers flying three
patrols and its Wildcats being launched to intercept a bogey which
proved friendly. On the 28th the ships closed the coast again and
SEARCHER launched her Wildcats for an attack on Aasborg, Aalesund.
The attack was cancelled. The carrier force returned to Scapa Flow
on the 29th and all serviceable squadron aircraft were flown off to
Hatston and a ground party was put ashore.
Between the 31st of March and the 4th April the squadron Avengers
flew 89 glide bombing practice sorties from Hatston, and the
Wildcats flew 36 sorties, mainly on fighter direction exercises. On
the 5th April the squadron aircraft flew back aboard QUEEN and the
ground party was re-embarked. Two additional Wildcat pilots joined
the squadron for the forthcoming operation.
Operation NEW MARKET
sailed from Scapa Flow again on the 6th April 1945 in company with
BELLONA, BIRMINGHAM, PUNCHER, SEARCHER and
escorted by the 17th Destroyer Flotilla, all under the command of CS
1, Rear Admiral McGrigor. The squadron maintained Avengers on
stand-by on the 6th and 7th . No patrols were flown, but four
Wildcats were flown as top cover for the force on the 6th . On the
8th nine Avengers were armed with four 500lb bombs each, but the
weather deteriorated and the strike was postponed. On the 9th three
Avengers were armed with depth charges and maintained at stand-by,
but no patrols were flown. At the end of the day the aircraft were
re-armed with bombs and on the 10th the ships closed the coast
again. The weather remained bad, however, and at the end of the day
operation â€˜New market' was abandoned and the task force returned
to Scapa Flow. QUEEN arrived at Scapa on the 14th of April and all
the squadron aircraft flew ashore to Hatston and a ground party was
the 15th to the 26th April the squadron flew intensively from
Hatston. Over 170 Avenger training sorties were flown, the vast
majority of them glide bombing practice. One hundred Wildcat sorties
were flown on a mix of section drill, air to air firing and fighter
direction exercises. The ground party was re-embarked on the 27th
and the aircraft took off to return to QUEEN in the Flow.
the first Avenger, flown by the Senior Pilot with the CO as
Observer, approached to land the ship was not quite into wind and
the aircraft was waved off. The next two Avengers landed on and were
struck down in the hangar and the next five were parked on deck
forward of the barriers after landing. By then the first Avenger had
gone around and made a new approach. It landed successfully and
hooked a wire which was a signal to the flight deck crew to lower
the barriers. Unfortunately the hook then pulled out of the aircraft
and with the barriers lowered it careered down the deck to crash
into the parked aircraft. All were seriously damaged but there were
no injuries. It was the first time the aircraft had been deck landed
since returning from a major overhaul.
took an hour to clear the deck for all the remaining aircraft to be
landed on. In the next two days the damaged aircraft were put over
the side and replacement aircraft obtained and serviced ashore. The
replacements landed-on on the 29th.
sailed from Scapa on the 1st May 1945 in company with NORFOLK
(Flying the Flag of Vice Admiral McGrigor CS 1), DIADEM, SEARCHER,
and TRUMPETER with seven escorts. On passage to the coast of Norway
the squadron flew seven Avenger patrols and ten Wildcat sorties on
section drills. On the 3rd two Avengers and a Wildcat were launched
to investigate a contact but nothing was found.
4th May 1945 eight squadron Avengers armed with four 500lb bombs
each, were boosted off for a strike on Kilbotn U-boat harbour in the
Lofoten islands. They were accompanied as close escort by four of
the squadron Wildcats. A 9th Avenger went unserviceable due to an
airlock in the fuel supply and had to be left behind. The strike
force of forty-four aircraft also included Avengers of 846 Squadron
from HMS TRUMPETER and Wildcats of 882 squadron from HMS SEARCHER.
strike flew at low level until making landfall at Skoger. It then
climbed to 4,000 feet, at which altitude the targets in Kilbotn
Harbour were clearly visible. 846 Squadron had been assigned the
Uboat depot ship Black Watch as its target and 853 a torpedo depot
ship believed to be the Karl Von Herring but later identified as the
Meteor. Wildcats from 882 Squadron were to bomb and strafe a flak
ship, the ex-Norwegian cruiser Harald Haarflager, which was tied up
at a pier some way from the other ships. The weather was very good
with a little cloud to give some cover to the approaching aircraft.
They encountered moderate heavy and light flak.
close escort fighter strafed the targets the Avengers peeled off in
rapid succession to bomb them. The first 853 squadron aircraft to
dive was QA, flown by Lieutenant Sailes with the CO as Observer. It
received a direct hit in the port mainplane, probably by a 40mm
shell, and was badly damaged. The Telegraphist/Air Gunner, CPO
Astbury, was wounded by shrapnel, but the aircraft remained
controllable and the attack was pressed home. The targets were
rapidly obscured by smoke and spray making it difficult to observe
hits. 'QF', flown by S/Lieutenant Gall, suffered an electrical
failure and its bombs had to be dropped with the emergency release,
resulting in an overshoot. The last 853 Avenger, piloted by
S/Lieutenant Buchanan, finding the 853 target completely hidden, saw
the Black Watch emerging from the smoke and spray and transferred
his aim to this, scoring a direct hit which was followed shortly by
a violent explosion. All 853 Squadron aircraft returned to the ship
and landed on safely. One 846 Avenger and one Wildcat failed to
return and were presumed to have been shot down by anti-aircraft
fire. Photographs by the last aircraft to leave the scene showed
both primary targets on fire with the Black Watch down by the stern.
Reconnaissance later showed both had sunk. It was later learned that
U 711 had been moored between the two depot ships and had also been
853 Wildcats were flown-off as top cover and protection for the
returning strike. The carrier force then set course for Scapa Flow,
with QUEEN taking turns as duty carrier providing stand-by Avengers.
On the 6th of May seven Wildcats were boosted-off for section drill
and gunnery tracking exercises with the escort. In the course of the
latter a Wildcat carried away the aerials of Zambesi. Its hook and
fuselage were damaged and it was diverted for an emergency landing
at Sumburgh in the Shetlands.
on passage for Scapa Flow the carrier force was diverted to a
position to the east of the Orkneys to prepare for Operation
CLEAVER. To make room for more fighters three Avengers were flown
ashore to Hatston, taking with them a number of pilots and observers
who were being relieved from first line flying. Five additional
Wildcats were flown on to QUEEN from CAMPANIA which had rendezvoused
with the force. The changes resulted in an aircraft complement of
six Avengers and twelve Wildcats.
7th May 1945 HMS QUEEN set course for the Skaggerak in company with
Norfolk, (flying the flag of Vice Admiral McGrigor CS 1), SEARCHER
and TRUMPETER and accompanied by seven escorts and an RFA. On the
8th May (VE DAY, but hostilities did not end until midnight) fighter
and anti-submarine cover was given to minesweepers clearing a
channel to Copenhagen for a force led by BIRMINGHAM to accept the
surrender of the German ships there.
squadron maintained two Avengers on patrol throughout the day,
flying 12 sorties, and 18 Wildcat sorties were also flown. One
Avenger fired a short burst at a Dornier flying boat. At the end of
the day the force set course for Scapa Flow, arriving on the 10th.
On the 11th Vice Admiral McGrigor and his staff came aboard and
congratulated the aircrew who had taken part in Operation Judgement,
which he stated had been a model operation in all respects. On the
13th the squadron sent representatives to a thanksgiving service on
RODNEY and to an assembly on TRUMPETER which was addressed by the
First Lord of the Admiralty.
Scapa Flow three Avengers were flown-on and five Wildcats flown off
in preparation for escorting convoy JW 67 to Russia. Although the
war in Europe had ended it was feared that some U-boats might not
have heard of, or would not observe, the cease-fire. QUEEN sailed
from Scapa Flow on the 14th of May 1945 in company with ORIBI and
15th it joined the convoy which consisted of twenty-six merchant
ships with eleven escorts. Over the next six days 34 Avenger sorties
were flown maintaining anti U-boat patrols up to 100 miles ahead of
and around the convoy. The Wildcats also flew 22 sorties. In the
course of these one Wildcat failed to catch a wire on landing and
crashed into the ship's island. No one was injured.
ship arrived in the Kola Inlet on the 20th and spent three days
there, during which the Red Navy Choir gave a concert in the hangar
and some of the crew of the Russian battleship ARCHANGEL (formerly
HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN) attended a screening of the film "Bathing
with ONSLOW and OBDURAATE in company, sailed from the Kola Inlet on
the evening of the 23rd May 1945, joining up with the convoy RA 67
with twenty-five merchant ships. On passage back to the UK 25
Avenger and 22 Wildcat sorties were flown. Increasingly the emphasis
changed from patrolling to exercises in which Avengers made dummy
attacks on the ships in the convoy while the Wildcats endeavoured to
arrival in the UK the squadron prepared to disband. Captain K.J.
D'Arcy DSO RN addressed the officers and men of the squadron and
congratulated them on the standard of efficiency maintained
throughout their five months' stay on QUEEN and praised the
operational achievements, especially the attack on Kilbotn. The
squadron aircraft flew off QUEEN for the last time on the 30th May
and flew over the ship in formation before flying ashore for the
aircraft to be put in store and the crews to go on leave. The
remainder of the squadron personnel stayed with the ship until it
reached port and travelled on leave from there.
During its brief life of 18 months the Squadron:-
Flew over 5,000 hours,
Served in three carriers,
Escorted two convoys to Russia and back,
Sighted two U-boats, attacking one with an acoustic depth charge,
Took part in five operations against the enemy in Norway,
Flew nearly 300 operational sorties,
Made over 1,000 deck landings, 94 at night,
The landings resulted in only seven significant accidents, an
accident rate of less than 1%. Only two accidents occurred on
My father N S Parish was a Navigator in the Avenger flown by Sub Lieutenant Buchanan and told me that they had a direct hit on the Black Watch. I have his Observer's Flying Log Book which has details about Operation Judgement. Fabulous History thanks so much.
My Brother, Charles Lawrence Kennett, was an armaments PO with the squadron on HMS Tracker escorting the Arctic Convoy RA 61 to Murmansk in October/November 1944. Would he have continued with the squadron on to the Queen? I think that he was also on the Arbiter. He had the France and Germany clasp to the Atlantic Star medal that makes me think that he was on the D-Day anti submarine protection operation. Can anyone confirm these possibilities?
Lt CDR N.G Haigh was my Grandad! Its very cool reading up on what he was doing in the War :) He passed away in 2012 at 95 but had a great, long life, after the war he married Elizabeth Briggs they adopted two children and had my father and remained together till my Granny died exactly 6 months earlier before he died himself. Both were lovely parents and grandparents, I miss them!