Operational History and Background

PreWar Fairey Swordfish L9761 of 812 sqdn, HMS Ark Royal

At the outset of war, the squadron’s Swordfish were stationed at Dekheila, then sailed with her ship HMS Glorious to the Indian Ocean in search of enemy shipping, spending time in Ceylon and subsequently the Red Sea. On return to Malta and a refit in January 1940, the ship was recalled back to the UK for the German invasion of Norway.

The squadron was then disembarked to RAF North Coates with RAF Coastal Command and flew mining and bombing operations in coastal areas of Holland, Belgium, Germany and France, taking part in the defence of the Dunkirk evacuations.

812 squadron TAG late 1940

In March 1941 the squadron left Coastal Command, a detachment of 6 Swordfish providing anti-submarine patrols for Gibraltar convoys from HMS Argus ferrying RAF fighters to Malta.

In July 1941 the entire squadron embarked for operations to attack the Arctic Port of Petsamo from HMS Furious, and this followed with further Malta convoy duties from HMS Furious, and from September in HMS Ark Royal.

Ark Royal was torpedoed in November 1941 and the squadron regrouped at North Front, Gibraltar where the squadron received the new ASV radar which was subsequently used to make the first night sinking of a U-Boat, U-451.

Subsequently the squadron served briefly both on HMS Argus, and as shore based when 5 U-Boats were damaged.

In April 1942, the squadron returned to the UK on USS Wasp and rejoined Coastal Command in September for night operations in the English Channel. Finally merging with 811 squadron in December 1942.

In June 1944, the squadron reformed at Stretton as a Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance (TBR) squadron with 12 Barracuda IIs.

In January 1945 the squadron embarked on HMS Vengeance to the Mediterranean, sailing to join the British Pacific Fleet in July 1945 and not encountering any combat up till VJ-Day.

Preserved Royal Navy Historic Flight Firefly in the markings and codes of 812 squadron Firefly in Korean war, HMS Glory

Battle Honours
North Sea 1940, English Channel 1940 - 2, Mediterranean 1941, Malta Convoys 1941

Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel

  • L/C AS Bolt, RN June 1939-April 1940
  • L/C NGR Crawford, RN April 1940-Sept 1940
  • L/C WE Waters, DFC, RN Sept 1940-Nov 1941
  • L/C GAL Woods, RN Nov 1941-May 1942
  • L/C BJ Prendergast, RN May 1942-Dec 1942
  • L/C(A) CRJ Coxon, RN June 1944- end of WW2
  • Aircraft
  • Swordfish I Dec 1936-Dec 1942
  • Swordfish II Oct 1942-Dec 1942
  • Barracuda II June 1944-end of WW2
  • Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to current Fleet Air Arm squadron information
    Associations and Reunions
    812 Naval Air Squadron (see 14th Carrier Air Group)(2001)
    "HMS. VENGEANCE, No.1850 & 812 SQUADRON" website by Ron Davis.  Includes complete history of 812 squadron 
    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  
    Robert Horsten's FAA
            Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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