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August 1944 - August 1946

 

Formation and work-up

The personnel for 1850 Squadron assembled at Townhill Camp in June 1944, and sailed for the USA to form and train. The squadron officially formed on August 1st 1944 at USNAS Brunswick as a single seat fighter squadron under the command of Lt. Cdr (A) M. Hordern RN. The squadron was issued with 18 Corsair IVs.

After familiarisation with the aircraft and equipment the squadron began training in earnest to prepare for active service. Training included navigation exercises, low flying, formation flying and combat tactics. During September the squadron began practicing ADDLs (Aerodrome Dummy Deck Landings) utilising the nearby US Naval Auxiliary Airfield at Bar Harbour, Maine in preparation for the real thing at sea later in the month. The squadron then briefly moved to  USNAS Norfolk to carry out DLT (Deck Landing Training) on the training carrier the USS CHARGER, operating in Chesapeake Bay.

On completion of working up at USNAS Brunswick 1850 and sister squadron 1849, flew to USNAS Floyd Bennett Field on November 15th 1944, the squadron aircrew continued on to  USNAS Norfolk leaving their aircraft behind. On the 17th the personnel of both squadrons assembled at USNAS Norfolk  and embarked in the escort carrier HMS REAPER, alongside in the Norfolk Naval Operating Base. REAPER sailed from Norfolk on the 18th and proceeded to New York; on arrival she moored at the 35th street Pier. Brooklyn at 15:35 on the 19th to undergo voyage repairs, this was completed at 12:00 on the 23rd. While at New York she embarked the squadron aircraft which were towed through the streets from Floyd Bennett Field and hoisted aboard from the pier. The squadron aircraft were stowed in the hangar and a ferry load of Lend-lease aircraft was also embarked as deck cargo. The following day REAPER joined Convoy CU.48 for the Atlantic crossing to the UK. On reaching the Western Approaches REAPER detached and proceeded to Belfast arriving there on December 6th to disembark her ferry load and squadrons at RNAMY Belfast.

Before their departure from USNAS Brunswick it had been decided that due to the high number of losses from accidents 1849 was to be disbanded on arrival in the UK, many of their aircrew and aircraft were allocated to Nos.1845 and 1850 Squadrons; 11 aircraft and 11 pilots are recorded as joining 1850.

Training in the UK

The squadron was allocated to the new Light Fleet Carrier HMS VENGEANCE, which was nearing completion at her builders Swan Hunter, Wallsend-on-Tyne. While waiting for her to enter service the squadron moved to RNAS Eglinton on December 27th 1944 to continue training, moving again on January 13th 1945 to RNAS Ayr. On January 15th 1945 VENGEANCE, with sister carriers COLOSSUS, GLORY, and VENERABLE were allocated for service with the British Pacific Fleet as the 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron (AC.11); none of these carriers was yet ready for operational deployment.

On February 10th 1945 the squadron embarked in VENERABLE, VENGEANCE’s sister ship, for their work up in carrier operations and DLT; there were three barrier crashes in the first week, on the 10th Sub-Lt P.L. Hodgson in RNVR KD223 caught the last wire, hit the barrier resulting in wing and propeller damage. Two days later Sub-Lt N.A. McKinisty RNVR in KD461 caught the last wire, and hit the barrier, and the following day Sub-Lt Hodgson made a fast landing in KD208, caught No 4 wire but entered the barrier. On the 20th Sub-Lt G. Cathcart RNVR made a forced landing on VENERABLE after losing oil pressure in KD209. Tragedy struck on February 23rd when two squadron pilots, Sub-Lt C.J. Macey RNVR in KD497 and Sub-Lt Hudson in KD510, failed to return from dawn formation practice while the ship was operating in the Clyde approaches. There was one final incident on the last day of operating from VENERABLE, Sub-Lt. Cathcart in KD207 got caught in the slipstream, of the aircraft in front and stalled into the sea to port after take-off; he was rescued safely.

HMS VENGEANCE

The squadron transferred from VENERABLE to VENGEANCE on February 25th in preparation for the ship’s work up period; the ship’s other squadron, 812 operating 18 Barracuda IIs embarked on the 26th. ! 812 had already been operating with the ship earlier in the year, embarking on January 26th and disembarking to RNAS Ayr on February 10th. VENGEANCE commenced trials and preliminary work-up on March 2nd in the Clyde approaches; Normally the full work-up and shakedown period would be done in the training areas off the Clyde and upper reaches of the Irish Sea but due to increased U-Boat activity in the Irish Sea the Admiralty ordered AC.11 to the safer waters of the Mediterranean to do their work ups. AC.11, COLOSSUS, VENERABLE (Flagship, Rear Admiral Cecil Harcourt RN OBE, CB.) & VENGEANCE, escorted by TARTAR, ULYSSES, HMCS ASSINIBOINE. STCKHAM, INMAN, and COTTON sailed from the Clyde on March 12th for Malta; GLORY did not sail until May 9th.

On reaching Malta VENERABLE and VENGEANCE flew their squadrons ashore to RNAS Hal Far on March 20th, COLOSSUS continued on to Alexandria and disembarked her squadrons to RNAS Dekheila on the 22nd. All three carriers were to receive dockyard alterations to their mainmast and aerial arrays; VENGEANCE returned to Gibraltar leaving Malta on the 22nd, VENERABLE entered a Maltese dockyard and COLOSUSS in Alexandria. VENGEANCE arrived back at Malta on April 22nd and re-embarked her squadrons, 812 on the 23rd and 1850 on the 25th.

While ashore at RNAS Hal Far the squadron continued training including interception exercises and ADDLs; there are two recorded incidents for this period, Sub-Lt E.E. Bardner RNVR was forced to bale out of his aircraft KD163 due to low oil pressure during an interception exercise on April 6th, he was never found. On the 15th KD269 flown by Lt. T.O. Adkin suffered a starboard undercarriage collapse landing during ADDLs at Hal Far.

COLOSSUS re-joined VENERABLE and VENGEANCE at the start of May to complete working up as a squadron; GLORY arrived at Malta on the 22nd to begin her work-up. During the work-up with the ship Sub-Lt F.C. English RNVR had a deck landing incident on the 24th, he caught No.1 wire in KD400, but swung, to port and a wheel ran oft the deck. COLOSSUS, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE, escorted by the destroyers TUSCAN and TYRIAN departed from Malta the following day for passage to Ceylon on the first leg of their journey to join the British Pacific Fleet in Sydney.

On reaching Ceylon on June 8th VENGEANCE disembarked the Barracudas of 812 to RNAS Katukurunda before calling at Trincomalee on the 9th, she then continued on to Madras, Southern India, to disembark 1850 to RNAS Tambaram on the 11th. They were the last of the Corsair squadrons to disembark from the three carriers, 1851 had disembarked from VENERABLE on the 7th and 1846 from COLOSSUS on the 10th. All three squadrons were to train on the extensive practise and live firing ranges the station had available, as well as receiving replacement aircraft from RNAMY Coimbatore in preparation for active service. Sub-Lt. English had a lucky escape on June 27th, flying in KD837 ('120/A'), during a dive bombing exercise he struck an island in the Chembarambakkam Tank range but appears to have recovered safely.

On June 30th 812 and 1850 squadrons became the 13th Carrier Air Group (13th CAG) for service in VENGEANCE; they re-embarked on July 3rd and 5th respectively, when the ship sailed for Australia. ! The 14th CAG formed in COLOSSUS with 827 and 1846 squadrons, and 15th CAG in VENERABLE with 814 and 1851 squadrons, all with 24 Corsair & 14 Barracuda. 1850 flew out to re-join the ship on July 1st and she proceeded to Colombo to embark 812 squadron on the 4th. COLOSSUS, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE sailed from Trincomalee for Australia on July 7th in company with the Battleship ANSON escorted by destroyers WAGER and WHELP.
 

The 13th Carrier Air Group and operations with the British Pacific Fleet

Flying was conducted on passage to Sydney; two days out from Trincomalee the Air Group and ship’s company celebrated crossing the Line. There were two barrier crashes, the first was, on the 8th when Sub-Lt D.S.H. Lynch RNVR lost the ability to lower the flaps in KD673 ('123/A'), the second was on the 9th when KD641 flown by Sub-Lt J. F. H. Laine RNVR entered No.1 barrier and overturned on the flight deck.

On reaching Jervis Bay off the coast of New South Wales the two squadrons of 13 CAG flew ashore to RNAS Jervis Bay on July 22nd, the ship arrived at No.2 Wharf, Woolloomooloo Docks, Sydney on the 24th. They remained ashore until August 13th, re-embarking in VENGEANCE when she prepared to sail for Manus in the Admiralty Islands. As early as August 10th it became clear that that Japan was willing to accept the terms of surrender and all of the ships in Australian waters had been reallocated to form Task Group 111 in readiness to reoccupy the former Crown Colonies in Hong Kong (TG111.2! Task Group 111.2 comprised carriers INDOMITABLE and VENERABLE, Cruisers SWIFTSURE and EURYALUS, PRINCE RUPERT (RCN) and Destroyers KEMPENFELT, URSA, WHIRLWIND and QUADRANT. ), Shanghai (TG111.3! Task Group 111.3 comprised BERMUDA (Flag of Rear Admiral Servaes, Flag Officer Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron., ARGONAUT, COLOSSUS, TYRIAN, TUMULT, TUSCAN and QUIBERON. ) and Singapore TG111.4! Task Group 111.4 comprised ANSON (Flag of Rear Admiral Daniel, Flag Officer Commanding 1st Battle Squadron, VENGEANCE and four destroyers. ).

VENGEANCE sailed on the 15th in company with INDOMITABLE, COLOSSUS, and VENERABLE, followed by cruisers BERMUDA and SWIFTSURE, destroyers QUADRANT, TUSCAN, URSA, TYRIAN, KEMPENFELT and WHIRLWIND; they were at sea when the Japanese surrender was announced. Flying continued while on passage; one aircraft was damaged during the landing on, KD806 flown by Lt. R.G. Payne landed to Starboard, caught No.4 wire but his starboard wing hit the small flight deck crane, on the 17th Sub-Lt V. T. Stacey had a barrier crash in KD673.

VENGEANCE, COLOSSUS, BERMUDA, TUSCAN and TYRIAN arrived at Manus on August 20th, the other vessels allocated to Task Group 111.2 had preceded directly to Subic Bay. On arrival VENGEANCE was allocated to Task Group 111.4 comprising ANSON (Flag of Rear Admiral Daniel, Flag Officer Commanding 1st Battle Squadron VENGEANCE and four destroyers for the re-occupation of Singapore. This was changed when it was found that logistic considerations would not permit dispatch of a Task Group to Singapore and T.G. 111.4 was reallocated to augment Task Group 111.2 for the re-occupation of Hong Kong.

Anson and her four destroyers sailed on the 22nd; VENGEANCE however remained at Manus to await orders. In order to keep aircrew in flying practise, it was decided to disembark a detachment of 12 Corsairs to RNAS Ponam on the 23rd, these were joined by 6 barracudas on the 28th; all re-joined the ship on August 30th when she sailed for Hong Kong. After a brief call at Leyte VENGEANCE arrived off Hong Kong on September 5th and landed parties to assist in the re-occupation and repatriation of military and civil personnel taken prisoner in December 1941 when the Colony fell to Japanese forces. On September 8th VENGEANCE‘s Air Group was disembarked to RNAS Kai Tak, the former civil airport reopened by MONAB VIII (Mobile Naval Air Base No,.8, HMS NABCATCHER). Squadron personnel were employed on policing and guard duties throughout the colony and many were present for the Official Japanese surrender of Hong Kong on the 16th
 

Return to Australia and Post War duties

Both squadrons re-embarked on December 20th; 1850 squadron strength had been reduced to 12 aircraft in October. On December 28th VENGEANCE departed Hong Kong for Labuan, a British Crown colony on the north western shore of the island of Borneo to embark former Australian POWS. She anchored in Victoria harbour, Labuan on New Year’s Day 1946 and 42 Officers and 400 men of the Royal Australian Army were embarked for passage to Sydney. On reaching the Australia coast her Air Group was flown ashore to RNAS Schofields; after disembarking her passengers the ship went to Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney for a two month refit. On arrival at Schofields 812 squadron was re-equipped, exchanging their Barracudas for 12 Firefly FR.Is.

Both squadrons, now with 12 aircraft each, re-embarked on March 19th and the ship sailed for Ceylon. Arriving off the Ceylonese coast on April 5th and disembarked her Air Group to RNAS Katukurunda; two days later VENGEANCE departed Colombo to undertake a round trip ferry voyage, collecting aircraft from RNAS Cochin in Southern India for delivery to Singapore, Iwakuni (Japan), Hong Kong and return to Trincomalee. 1850 squadron remained ashore until June 11th when the ship returned to Colombo. 1850 conducted flying operations throughout the remaindered of June and into July, with two barrier crashes recorded; Sub-Lt DM Rouse landed between Nos.5 & 6 wires, and his hook failed to engage and his aircraft KD725 ('V8K'), entered into No. 1 barrier on June 18th. The final recorded incident was on July 13th when an un-named pilot put KD725 ('V8K'), into the barrier, the aircraft was ditched overboard. 812 re-joined the ship on July 15th in preparation for the ship’s sailing for the UK. A further 12 Corsairs were embarked on the 18th when 1851 squadron, formerly in VENERABLE, joined the ship for passage home.
 

Return to the UK to disband

VENGEANCE departed from Colombo on July 20th carrying her Air Group and passengers for the UK. She called at Aden, Port Suez, and Gibraltar before arriving off Spithead, Portsmouth on August 12th 1946. After Customs clearance all squadrons were disembarked, 812 to RNAS Lee-on-Solent, 1850 and 1851 to RNAS Gosport, all officially disbanded on arrival.



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Content revised: 24 November 2018

Sources used in compiling this account:

Sturtivant, R. & Burrows, M. (1995) 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)

Sturtivant, R & Balance, T., (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Tonbridge Wells, Air Britain (Historians)

Fold3.com various documents including;

Admiralty War Diaries

Norfolk Navy Yard War Diaries

Mew York Navy Yard War Diaries

Miscellaneous documents

 

 

 

 

 

Motto: None
 

 

 

Battle Honours

None

 

Aircraft Types

Corsair IV Aug 1944 - Aug1946
 

 

Commanding Officers

Lt. Cdr (A) M. Hordern RN 1Aug 1944

Lt. Cdr (A) W.N. Waller RN 2 Dec 1945
Squadron disbanded 12 Aug 1946

 

 

Aircrew and Squadron Personnel
 

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Copyright © 2015-2018 The Royal Navy Research Archive


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