HMS DAEDALUS
HERITAGE 

World War Two
Support to the forgotten war and finally VJ-Day


 
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Support to the forgotten war and finally VJ-Day

With the fall of the German forces in Europe the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm increased the pressure on the Japanese Axis Forces in the Pacific. Lee-on-Solent and Portsmouth were to play vital roles in augmenting the Fleet train to the British Pacific Fleet in its war against Japan, and training aviators for the new American fighter aircraft.


The Spearfish prototype was flown at Lee-on-Solent in July 1945

The Fleet Air Arm was also busy with developing new prototype aircraft as the new technologies evolved towards the end of the war. The first prototype Fairey Spearfish RA360 flew on 5 July, 1945. Several Spearfish were used for trials for some years after the war by the Carrier Trials Unit (CTU) at Lee-on-Solent and at  Ford in Sussex.

The timetable for the end of World War II began with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August, and 9 August 1945, which led to the Japanese capitulation and surrender on 14 August, 1945. President Truman proclaimed 2 September, 1945 as V-J Day, Victory over Japan. War was over, however the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm maintained their strengths and many naval aviators did not return from the Pacific until 1946.
 
Recollections of Lee on Solent by New Zealand Fleet Air Arm pilots, 1945
Ben Heffer and 30 other New Zealand Fleet Air Arm recruits were transferred to Lee on Solent to await transport to the USA to train on the new American Corsair aircraft. Whilst at Daedalus he was given guard duty. Ben memories of this duty are as follows: 

"I recall the first night there doing guard duty around the airfield with a rifle with (1) one round of ammo! The threat of German parachutists was still hanging over the country at the time. I had a fixed bayonet so after firing my one round I could have held the rifle upright on the ground and hoped the enemy would fall on it!!" Long delays kept Ben assigned to the airfield with little to do. One day when assigned to do some chore Ben and his friend Geoff sneaked off to find a sunny place to relax behind the barracks. A Walrus amphibian had just taken off from the airfield and was in trouble. Suddenly it turned right toward Ben and Geoff, descending rapidly to crash into the barracks near where they had been taking their break. All three of the crew were killed."

(Ref: Ben Heffer - 1833 Squadron FAA (Fleet Air Arm) F4U Corsair pilot HMS Illustrious 1944-45 Pacific)

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