Operational History and Background
On the outbreak of war, the squadron was operating from HMS Ark Royal with 12 Swordfish on anti-submarine searches, unsuccessfully attacking a U-boat on 14 September 1939.

In April 1940, the ship and her squadrons took part in the defence of Norway, including bombing Vaernes aerodrome, then subsequently sailed with the ship to Gibraltar, and in July took part in operations against the French fleet at Oran when it made an abortive attack on the battleship Strasbourg, and later participated in an attack on the French battleship Dunkerque.

In August and September bombing attacks were made against Cagliari, Sardinia and the Vichy French Fleet at Dakar, including an unsuccessful attack on the battleship Richelieu.

In November the squadron provided anti-submarine patrols during convoys and action against the Italian Fleet off Cape Spartivento, and in February 1941 a bombing attack on Tirso Dam, Sardinia and bombing attacks on Leghorn and La Spezia in Italy.

HMS Ark Royal flight deck being prepared for her Swordfish to attack the German Battleship Bismarck in 1941

In May 1941 the ship and squadron participated in the Atlantic search for the German battleship Bismarck,  810 and 818 squadrons led the attack which crippled the Bismarck. Two torpedo hits from the combined 810/818 squadron strike force from HMS Ark Royal on 26 May 1941 gave the Fleet the opportunity to sink the Bismarck. The squadron then returned to the Mediterranean for operations against Sardinia, and subsequent convoy work to Jamaica.

In March 1941 the squadron embarked on HMS Illustrious to take part in the May operations on Madagascar, when the squadron bombed shipping and other targets at Diego Suarez. Subsequently after a brief stay at Durban and the Bismarck pursuit in the Atlantic in May 1941 the squadron returned to the UK.

Wartimecolour photograph ofthe Bismarck at sea                                    Bismarck smoking on the horizon whilst under fire from the
                                                                                                        Fleet immediately prior to her being sunk, 26 May 1941

In April 1943 the squadron re-equipped with Barracuda IIs, the squadron then carried out operations off the Norwegian coast in July 1943 before sailing in HMS Illustrious to provide support in the Salerno landings.

In October 1943 the squadron re-grouped as part of the 21st Naval Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance (TBR) Wing, embarking in November to join the Eastern Fleet.

In March 1944 the squadron carried out sweeps in the Bay of Bengal, in April bombing attacks on Sabang docks and oil tanks, Sumatra, and in June operations against the Andaman Islands, following which the ship sailed for a refit at Capetown.

In February 1945 the squadron was re-equipped with Barracuda IIIs at Stretton, and in March the squadron moved to Thorney Island and subsequently the East Coast to try out the new ASV Mk.XI radar during anti-shipping patrols in the English Channel with RAF Coastal Command, disbanding in August 1945.

SEA FURY FB.11, WF617 "100/C", 810 Sqn FAA, HMS Centaur, 1954 [A0205]
© Scott Fraser

Battle Honours
Norway 1940, Mediterranean 1940 - 1, Spartivento 1940. Atlantic 1941, 'Bismarck' 1941, Diego Suarez 1942, Salerno,1943

Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel

  • Capt NRM Skene, RM (Sq Ldr, RAF) Dec 1938-June 1940
  • Capt AC Newson, RN June 1940-July 1940
  • L/C M Johnstone, DSC, RN July 1940-Sept 1941
  • Lt JV Hartley, RN Sept 1941-Dec 1941
  • L/C RN Everett, RN Dec 1941-Jan 1943
  • L/C(A) AJB Forde, RN March 1943-Feb 1944
  • L/C(A) AG McWilliam, RNVR Feb 1944-July 1944
  • L/C(A) AJB Forde, RN July 1944-Dec 1944
  • L/C(A) PC Heath, RN Dec 1944 - end of WW2
  • Aircraft
  • Swordfish I Sept 1937-March 1943
  • Swordfish II March 1942-March 1943
  • Albacore I Jan 1943
  • Barracuda II April 1943-July 1945
  • Barracuda TR.III Feb 1945-Aug 1945
  • Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to current Fleet Air Arm squadron information

    Associations and Reunions
    No information

    810 squadron today. MOD website
    With Gallantry and Determination" The Story of the Torpedoing of the Bismarck by Mark E. Horan
    Order of Battle Mers-el-Kebir (Operation Catapult) 3 July 1940. Contributed by Dan Muir  Role of 810 sqdn in the Battle
    World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway American based World Aircraft Carrier Lists & Photo Gallery - one of the definitive online sources for British and world aircraft carrier & seaplane tender data, histories and images - over 1000 photos. 
    Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8  
    810 sqdn in Robert Horsten's FAA Squadrons  
            Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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