A large US
naval base complex was built at Argentia, the flat headland
formed by a small natural bay called Little Placentia Sound
and the western end facing Placentia Bay. The land was ceded
to the United States as part of the 1940 "Destroyers for
Bases" agreement, part of the lend-lease program, Argentia
became an American territory on January 25th 1941.
Construction began to build two bases, a Naval Operating
Base and an adjoining air field. On July 15, 1941, the Naval
Operating Base was commissioned. Naval Air Station Argentia
commissioned on August 28, 1941. The air station was used to
base convoy protection, coastal patrol and anti-submarine
aircraft, both land-based aircraft and seaplanes.
arrival of the American built escort carriers Atlantic
convoys were now covered by naval aircraft for the whole of
the crossing, in order to replenish squadrons on these small
carriers strategic reserves of replacement aircraft were
established. In May 1943 Royal Naval Air Sections were
established at USNAS Argentia, Newfoundland, and RAF
Kaldadarnes, Iceland, to
provide and maintain, in storage, a reserve of up to 12
Swordfish for possible use as replacement aircraft for
escort carriers on N. Atlantic convoy duties. The Sections
would also be able to support one disembarked squadron.
Air Section Argentia was commanded by Lt. Cdr (A) E.W.
Kenton RNVR. under the administrative control of Captain (D)
as Senior British Naval Officer Argentia. Personnel serving
on the section were be borne for pay and discipline on the
books of H.M.S. 'Avalon III'.
Section Argentia also issued and received aircraft to/from
R.N. Air Section Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia and R.N.
Air Section Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; there are records of 6
Swordfish having been held on the station during 1943 and
being issued to No.745 squadron at Yarmouth. Only one
replacement airframe for a squadron on an escort carrier
is recorded; Swordfish HS440 was issued to 819 Squadron
HMS ARCHER May 19th 1943.
squadron is recorded as having operated ashore, 816 squadron
was put ashore on November
14th to 12 December 1943 while the carrier entered a
U.S. dockyard for voyage repairs. Many of the squadron aircraft had been badly damaged by the ship being thrown around in a South-easterly gale on passage; only three remained serviceable by the time the ship reached Argentia. It is possible that repairs were undertaken by the RN Air Section and that replacement Swordfish were issued (at least 2 arrived from RN Air Section Dartmouth
for 816 during November).
The Air Section was paid off and withdrawn on July 5th
Click here for a list of
Naval Station Argentia Wiki
Building the [US] Navy's Bases
in World War II - History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks
and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940-1946 - Volume I - Chapter
XIX Bases in the North Atlantic
Admiralty Fleet Orders:
3785/44 Closing Down of R.N. Air Section, Argentia,
Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders:
2574/43 R.N. Air Section,
Argentia, Newfoundland - Administration