Jump to content

Fleet Air Arm in Battle of Britain- Forgotten?


Recommended Posts

Hiya Folks,

While watching the TV coverage of the Battle of Britain Anniversary here in the UK it seems that although the Commonwealth, Free European Air Force and other foreign contributions (including Canadian, Czech and Polish units) made towards the RAF defeat of the Luftwaffe has been rightly commemorated,....the Fleet Air Arm has not been mentioned once,.....another case of the RAF scrubbing the Navy out of the equation? I didn`t see one naval uniform in Westminster Abbey amongst the sea of RAF Blue!

There were two Fleet Air Arm squadrons eligible to claim to be Battle of Britain squadrons,....804 & 808 Naval Air Squadron`s plus 23 naval pilots were seconded to RAF squadrons within Fighter Command, 4 of whom became aces.

LETS REMEMBER THEM TOO!

Here are some good links for those who wish to know more;

http://www.fleetairarmoa.org/Content/sites/FAAOA/pages/178/FAA_amp_BoB.PDF

http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/rollofhonour/Battlehonour_crewlists/BattleofBritain_FAAaircrew_1940.html

Cheers

Tony

Edited by tonyot
  • Like 22
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the RAF deliberately leaves out the FAA; I thinks its more to the lack of study and knowledge of those who keep the history.They don't study or know it as deeply as we do, or those of the past did.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wel put Tony and yes the Crabs will always deny the FAA any credence whenever the opportunity arrises.

Revenge will be sweet...

Colin

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said Tony.

And I thought the BBC filming of the flypast was rubbish. Would have thought they could deploy a few zoom lenses or even an air-to-air.

Nick

My Father has been banned from reading the Daily Mail on health grounds. After that pathetic attempt and the recent Hiroshima coverage I think a BBC ban will be next.....

To my shame I was unaware of the RN or RM involvement either. Penned in a suitable build for the future. Thanks for the links Tony.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wel put Tony and yes the Crabs will always deny the FAA any credence whenever the opportunity arrises.

Revenge will be sweet...

Colin

With respect, that's not entirely true - there are numerous Battle of Britain dining-in-nights at which the FAA contribution is mentioned, and the RAF 1* at the joint Staff College gives due recognition in his speech at the annual commemoration of the Battle. The RAF's pages on the Battle refer to them as well:

http://www.raf.mod.uk/campaign/battle-of-britain-75th/squadrons/804-squadron/

http://www.raf.mod.uk/campaign/battle-of-britain-75th/squadrons/808-squadron/

The main issue is that neither of the squadrons was in the thick of the battle with either Hurricanes or Spitfires; this, in turn, means that they tend to be overlooked in the same way that all of Bomber Command (despite 2 VCs awarded bombing 'anti-invasion targets') and Coastal Command get a stiff ignoring.

Indeed, until relatively recently in terms of service knowledge about the Battle my experience has been that the FAA squadrons and loan pilots received more recognition from the RAF than Bomber and Coastal Commands.

Bear in mind also that the current CAS served with the FAA during the Falklands and is very close friends with 1st Sea Lord; it is exceptionally unlikely that the RAF would deliberately ignore the RN completely given that CAS was read into the detail of the commemoration.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have kicked around the idea of doing on article on the topic for RCN News Magazine focusing on the FAA pilots with 242 Squadron, but sadly, I doubt I would have it done this year. (Yea, poor planning on my part.)

Speaking of FAA pilots with the RAF, I am curious as to what Roy Baker-Falkner was doing during the Battle. Maybe it is mentioned in his biography that I haven't read yet...

Jim

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently doing a build of BOB RAF aeroplanes flown by FAA pilots.

On the go at the moment are two hurricanes flown by SLt Cork:-

242 Sqn RAF Hurricane P2831 LE*K and

880 NAS Operation Pedestal Sea Hurricane.

In the stash waiting to be started are:-

SLt Gardner's 242 Sqn Hurricane - I have the Xtradecales LE*T set (even though I don't think Garners regular "England expects" aeroplane was T). If someone knows different please say so...

SLt Dawson-Paul's 64Sqn Spitfire - L1035 SH*D

SLt AG Blake's 19 Sqn Spitfire - The usual view is that his regular aeroplane was QV*Y but he did not get kills in this aeroplane - my question is that he got kills in P4380 and R6991 so what aircraft letters were they? QV*?

If anyone can help - I'm all ears...

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As the son of a FAA pilot of the immediate post war period I can only say that I never heard him express the view that his Service had been denied credit for its contribution to the BoB.

He may have had a fairly biased view of his RAF colleagues who had a significant area of a planet (easy enough to find) to land on rather than a moving ship but that was about the extent of his prejudice :)

Cheers

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

Aeroplane magazine did some fairly decent coverage of the FAA with their Battle of Britain September edition. The article was entitled the 'Fleet Air Arms Few'. There's an interesting photo of Sub-Lt Gardners 242 Sqn Hurricane with Nelsons semaphore flags- 'England expects that every man must do his duty' painted below the cockpit! I see Xtradecal make the decals for that.

Trouble is Joe Public doesn't buy Aeroplane magazine and everyone knows it was just RAF spitfires that won the BoB!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Tony's original point was about the lack of mention/acknowledgment of the FAA contribution during Sunday's commemoration at Westminster Abbey rather than generally/historically.

Nick

Yup!

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

Even as an ex- RAF bod, I agree with you entirely- the FAA didn't just supply squadrons, some of fighter command's "few" were indeed navy flyers attached to the RAF. All too often, the spectrum of who served in the battle is overlooked- particularly by the press.

As long as the efforts of all those who served to stop a dictatorship in full flow during those months July-Oct 1940 are remembered, even if only by one person, part of the debt the world owes them is paid back.

I believe there should now be a push to ensure through our schools that the battle is taught and remembered.

With the world at present, the need to do so is greater than ever.

Regards Adrian

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said Adrian,

My missus is a Teaching Assistant in a Primary School and we made a point of teaching the Battle of Britain to the kids last week,.....I ran up a worksheet for the children to do in class and for homework and also provided some facts for the Teacher to teach to them. The official curriculum notes were atrocious and wrong in many places!

I blame the RAF attitude to the Fleet Air Arm on the top brass who seem to have inherited a general attitude of hostility to the other services which stems from the 1920`s when the RAF was trying to justify its existence. The RAF rank and file are generally fine,.....but if the current boss was attached to FAA during the Falklands then that might say a lot as judging from what I`ve read in a few books,... the Navy in general (not the FAA I may add) were not very nice to the RAF, especially aboard the carriers! `

All the best

Tony

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Aeroplane magazine did some fairly decent coverage of the FAA with their Battle of Britain September edition. The article was entitled the 'Fleet Air Arms Few'. There's an interesting photo of Sub-Lt Gardners 242 Sqn Hurricane with Nelsons semaphore flags- 'England expects that every man must do his duty' painted below the cockpit! I see Xtradecal make the decals for that.

Thanks for mentioning the article. I don't pay much attention to Aeroplane magazine, but I'll search out the September issue whenever it appears on this side of the pond.

Jim

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

?..if the current boss was attached to FAA during the Falklands then that might say a lot as judging from what I`ve read in a few books,... the Navy in general (not the FAA I may add) were not very nice to the RAF, especially aboard the carriers! `

All the best

Tony

Andy Pulford wasn't aboard the carriers, though, so you're OK. He was on exchange with 845 NAS, flying the mighty Wessex V. For a mere rotary pilot (the RAF top brass tend to be somewhat "fast jet" dominated) to make it all the way to CAS is remarkable in itself. He is indeed a mate of "Gorgeous George" Zambellas - an equally rare WAFU to make it all the way in the RN. I flew with George on 829. Good bloke.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I only see assumptions the RAF left the FAA out of the ceremonies. I'd blame it on FAA leadership for not ensuring they were represented at the ceremonies.

My parents grew up in England during the BoB. They always mention the RAF and not the FAA. I think it is fair to say that most of the recognition does go the the RAF due to how the defense of Britain during that period of the War was reported over the years. Canadians, Poles, and Czechs were recognized for their contributions as they themselves made sure they were recognized.

FAA leadership should have been thumping their chest as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My parents grew up in England during the BoB. They always mention the RAF and not the FAA.

Why should we be surprised by this? I'd be the last to deny the contribution of the FAA and its pilots, but the brunt of the battle was borne by the RAF's Fighter Command, principally 11 Group. Recently there have been moves afoot to achieve more public recognition for the contribution of other parts of the RAF as well, not least Bomber Command which suffered appalling casualties during this period.

For most people the received image of the BoB will always be the Spitfires and Hurricanes of Fighter Command doing battle with the Luftwaffe. Anyone with a genuine interest in the history will know that this is only part of the story and a gross over simplification, but for many it will do. Many more wouldn't even know what the BoB was. These events are on the brink of passing from living memory.

Myth and history become inextricably intertwined and that process for the BoB started in the Anglo-American media whilst the battle was on going.

Cheers

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said Adrian,

My missus is a Teaching Assistant in a Primary School and we made a point of teaching the Battle of Britain to the kids last week,.....I ran up a worksheet for the children to do in class and for homework and also provided some facts for the Teacher to teach to them. The official curriculum notes were atrocious and wrong in many places!

I blame the RAF attitude to the Fleet Air Arm on the top brass who seem to have inherited a general attitude of hostility to the other services which stems from the 1920`s when the RAF was trying to justify its existence. The RAF rank and file are generally fine,.....but if the current boss was attached to FAA during the Falklands then that might say a lot as judging from what I`ve read in a few books,... the Navy in general (not the FAA I may add) were not very nice to the RAF, especially aboard the carriers! `

All the best

Tony

I agree that FAA participation should be more prominent. Are there any books dealing specifically with this aspect of the Battle?

As to teaching, a few years ago Max Jr. was having a history lesson and the teacher asked for examples of famous battles. Suitably indoctrinated by yours truly, he said the Battle of Britain.

The teacher had never heard of it...........

Trevor

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure where this has gone wrong. For ages now, ever since I read "Reach for the Sky" for the 1st time, 50+ years ago, I was aware of the contribution of some FAA pilots, especially the ones that served with 242 sqn. Even the BoB film that I watched last week mentioned the extra pilots coming from the FAA along with ex Battle pilots & & the up & coming squadrons with pilots from occupied countries (58:00), as well as in the list of pilots who served & their losses at the movies end (2:05:26) There is no excuse for this not being known, I can only surmise that the relatively modest numbers involved have lead to them being overlooked & maybe the current Naval hierarchy needed a boot up the jacksee to remind them to promote this.

Steve.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As to teaching, a few years ago Max Jr. was having a history lesson and the teacher asked for examples of famous battles. Suitably indoctrinated by yours truly, he said the Battle of Britain.

The teacher had never heard of it...........

Trevor

Pick a relative under 30 years old and ask for the dates to the nearest year of WW1 and WW2. I'll be surprised if any get it right and, yes, I have tried it. They won't know in which century the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo took place.

Cheers

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought the American Eagle squadron won the Battle of Britain......... have i been watching the wrong movies?

If you put "Americans in the Battle of Britain" into Google you get "About 32,700,000 results (0.39 seconds)"

If you put "Battle of Britain" into Google you get "About 5,660,000 results(0.21 seconds) "
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As one who has given speeches at Mess BoB dinners I find it still "grates" ever so slightly whenever "The Few" toast is given. If one actually goes through the whole Churchill speech http://www.winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1940-the-finest-hour/the-fewthen I find it hard how an entire Service manages to appear to predicate it's whole existence down to "The Few" when the actual speech is far more comprehensive and pays respect to the multitude of contributions that the nation had made as a whole up to that point in the war and that Churchill was fortifying and preparing the country for what was still to come. The RAF have singled out and effectively used this to excellent effect ever since but, to my minds eye, this has led to many issues internally within the RAF with those who trace their lineage back to "The Few" having maintained a superiority complex for many years (no different to the RN having issues with the battleship mentality many years back). The PR machine is brilliant with the Spitfire, the roundel and "The Few" all intertwined into the national psyche such that if anyone sees an aircraft overhead then it must be RAF or,if they see a military person in combats, then it must be Army; the fact that either of these could be FAA or Marines would not even register with many. The RN sucks with its PR as, when a ship is operational, carrying out the international policing role covering the areas that represents the greater surface of the earth then, as soon as it is over the horizon the general populace pretty much forget that the RN exist at all (unless they happen to live in a RN port town).

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The RN sucks with its PR as, when a ship is operational, carrying out the international policing role covering the areas that represents the greater surface of the earth then, as soon as it is over the horizon the general populace pretty much forget that the RN exist at all (unless they happen to live in a RN port town).

Since the Battleship era closed the RN has always been just a Pompey Aircraft Carrier force has it not? They sure do look pretty in the pics (yet not so scrumptious in real life if I recall, although maybe they were shinier when new)

Try finding out about Devonport based frigates and it's all silence. And worse still I'm pretty sure there was a class or two between the Leanders and T23s yet and yet except for HMS Amazon (thanks to the Airfix kit no doubt) it's like the T21 & T22s never got off the drawing board.

Edited by dpm1did1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...