History in 1939

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Lee-on-Solent Headquarters of the Fleet Air Arm, 1939

With the expansion of the RAF during the 1930's Parliament decided that the Fleet Air Arm should transfer to the Admiralty whereby the Royal Navy would again obtain practical control of its aircraft and shore-bases. Headquarters of the Fleet Air Arm was to be at Lee-on-Solent, which was, like all naval shore establishments, given a ship's name, and the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) was commissioned as HMS Daedalus on 24 May 1939, becoming the headquarters of Flag Officer Air (Home) and the barracks from which all Fleet Air Arm ratings were drafted to ships and squadrons.

Progressive enlargement led to the current site of HMS Daedalus which totals nearly 500 acres, of which 100 acres are covered with buildings, the remaining 400 acres as airfield. Its maximum capacity being originally for 100 aircraft. Units based at that time included No 2 Observer School which comprised No. 753 Blackburn Shark squadron and No. 754 squadron with Supermarine Walruses and Fairey Seafoxes.

No. 765 squadron formed as a Seaplane School and Pool Squadron equipped with Walruses, Fairey Swordfish and Fairey Seafoxes, to train pilots in seaplane techniques and to provide a reserve for catapult squadrons. It included aircrew awaiting appointments in frontline squadrons on Aircraft Carriers stationed around the world.


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