List of Fleet Air Arm Honours and Awards 1939-1945
The Victoria Cross
awarded to FAA Personnel

Dedicated to the memory of all those who received honours and awards in the Fleet Air Arm . The page is especially dedicated to the families of Esmonde and Gray.




For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.


A bar is awarded for additional acts of bravery. Only 3 have been awarded, none to the Fleet Air Arm.


The crimson ribbon is 1.5 inches wide and a miniature cross is worn on the ribbon in undress. The ribbon was dark blue for naval recipients until 1918.


The recipient's rank, name and regiment are engraved on the reverse of the mounting bar.


The medal was instituted on 5 February 1856 with awards retroactive to 1854. The first award to British Naval Aviators was to the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John WARNEFORD RN won his VC on 7 June 1915, he was killed in action at Versailles, France on 17 June 1915. 
"On 7 June 1915 at Ghent, Belgium, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford attacked and completely destroyed a German airship in mid air. He had chased the airship from the coast near Ostend, and succeeded in dropping his bombs on it, the last of which set the airship on fire, but the explosion overturned the attacking plane and stopped its engine. Having no alternative, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford had to land  in hostile country, but after 35 minutes spent on repairs, he managed to restart the engine and returned to base".
The only other RNAS VC awardee was Sqdn Cdr Richard BELL-DAVIES, RNAS who as awarded the medal after gallant action on 19 November 1915 while carrying out an air attack at Ferrijik Junction, Bulgaria. 

Fleet Air Arm CO recipients of the VC

There have been 1,351 Victoria Crosses and 3 Bars awarded worldwide, 2 to Fleet Air Arm Officers (one Canadian and one Irish-born) in World War II.
  • GRAY, Robert Hampton Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1841 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm 
  • ESMONDE, Eugene. Royal Navy, 825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm

GRAY, Robert Hampton Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1841 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm 

"On 9 August 1945 at Onagawa Wan, Honshu, Japan, Lieutenant Gray led an attack on a Japanese destroyer. In the face of fire from shore batteries and heavy concentration of fire from some five warships, he pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to ensure success. Although he was wounded and his aircraft in flames he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer. His aircraft crashed into the bay"

ESMONDE, Eugene. Royal Navy, 825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm

"On 12 February 1942 in the Straits of Dover, off England, Lieutenant Commander Esmonde led his squadron of six Swordfish to the attack of two German battle cruisers the Scharnhorst and the cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were entering the Straits strongly escorted by surface craft. Detached from their escorting fighters (just 10 in number) by enemy fighters, all the aircraft of the squadron were damaged, but even after Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde's plane sustained a direct hit he still continued the run-in towards his target until it burst into flames and crashed into the sea. The squadron went on to launch a gallant attack, but none of the six aircraft returned".

Also see the website Victoria Cross Reference by Mike Chapman.

For information on Fleet Air Arm campaign medal rolls and individual awards contact the relevant Armed Services Medal Offices. 

  • Navy: Ministry of Defence, NPP Acs 3 (b) 4, HMS Centurion, Grange Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO13 9XA, UK
  • Royal Air Force: Ministry of Defence, CS Sec 1d, Room F93, Building 256, HQ RAF PTC, RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire GL3 1EZ, UK
  • Royal Marines: Ministry of Defence, Drafting and Record Office, Royal Marines, HMS Centurion; Grange Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO13 9XA, UK 
  • Merchant Navy: Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Spring Place, 105 Commercial Road, Southampton SO15 1EG. 
Royal Navy Ministry of Defence Website Royal Navy: Sources of Information. Online information: How to obtain Royal Navy Service Records & Medals
Canadian Military Hall Of Honor

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Last Modified: 5 April 2001

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