Operational History and Background
The squadron formed at Worthy Down in October 1939 from the remnants of 811 and 822 squadrons surviving the sinking of HMS Courageous in September 1939, and disbanded in November 1939.

The same CO, L/C S Borrett, RN reformed the squadron later that month with 9 Swordfish, and in April 1940 the squadron was attached to RAF Coastal Command at Bircham Newton.

In May 1940 the squadron provided support to the Dunkirk evacuation.

In June 1940 the squadron embarked on HMS Illustrious and sailed for the Mediterranean in August, attacking and minelaying Benghazi, Rhodes and Tobruk.

Aerial Photograph of the sunken ships after Operation Judgement, the Fleet Air Arm air strike
on the Italian fleet and harbour at Taranto, 11 November 1940

In November 1940 the entire squadron took part in the attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto. The CO L/C K Williamson RN and crew were lost and taken POW during the operation.

In December 1940 two Italian convoy ships were sunk off Sicily, but HMS Illustrious was severely damaged in a dive bombing attack in January 1941 but 5 of the squadron aircraft escaped to Malta, combined with the remnants of 819 and 821 to re-form as a new 815 squadron under the same CO.

In January 1941 the squadron operated from Crete carrying out attacks on shipping and minelaying, and was evacuated in April to Dekheila, thence Cyprus for attacks on Vichy French shipping off Syria, succeeding in damaging one destroyer and sinking another destroyer.

In August 1941 the squadron re-equipped with 12 Albacores and 2 Swordfish with ASV radar to support the 8th Army in the Western Desert, attacking German-held aerodromes and armoured formations, and the Allied advance into Libya in 1942.

Fairey Swordfish Mk.I V4373, 815 Sqn FAA, February 1942

On 2 June 1942 the U-boat U-652 was sunk, shared with RAF 203 squadron Blenheim V4707/L, then in March 1943 a special Albacore flight was formed to provide Fleet bombardment spotting.

The squadron was disbanded in July 1943 at Mersa Matruh but reformed at Lee-on-Solent in October 1943 as a Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance squadron with 12 Barracuda IIs.

During 1943 the squadron joined the 52nd Naval TBR Wing, embarking on HMS Begum in February 1944 for India where it joined 12th Naval TBR Wing for operations with the Eastern Fleet in HMS Indomitable in July 1944.

In August 1944 it took part in an attack on the Sumatran port of Emmahaven, then in succeeding months on Sigli and the Nicobar islands.

In November, the squadron returned to the UK in HMS Activity without its aircraft after a decision to replace Barracuda squadrons by Avengers in the Pacific Theatre.

In December 1944 the squadron re-equipped with 12 barracuda IIs at Machrihanish for anti-submarine activities, replacing with Barracuda IIIs from January 1945, and adding Wildcat from 825 in April, the following month being spent on deck landing training in HMS Campania.

The squadron subsequently sailed for the Far East in HMS Smiter, but saw no action before VJ-Day, and returned in September 1945 in HMS Fencer.

Battle Honours
North Sea 1940, Mediterranean 1940 - 2,Taranto 1940,
Libya 1941 - 2

Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel

  • L/C S Borrett, RN Oct 1939-Nov 1939
  • L/C S Borrett, RN Nov 1939-April 1940
  • L/C RA Kilroy, DFC, RN April 1940-Aug 1940
  • L/C JdeF Jago, RN Nov 1940-March 1941
  • L/C FMA Torrens-Spence, RN March 1941-Oct 1941
  • L/C TP Coode, RN Oct 1941-Dec 1941
  • L/C PD Gick, RN Dec 1941-Sept 1942
  • L/C(A) JWG Wellham, DSC, RN Sept 1942-July 1943
  • L/C(A) RG Lawson, RNVR Oct 1943-Dec 1944
  • L/C D Norcock, RN Dec 1944-Jan 1945
  • L/C(A) JS Bailey, OBE, RN Jan 1945-April 1945
  • L/C(A) MH Meredith, DSC, RNVR April 1945-end of WW2
  • Aircraft
    • Swordfish I Oct 1939-Feb 1943
    • Swordfish II March 1943-July 1943
    • Albacore I Oct 1941-Aug 1943
    • Fulmar I March 1943-July 1943
    • Fulmar II Sept 1942-July 1943
    • Barracuda II Oct 1944-April 1945
    • Barracuda TR.3 Jan 1945-end of WW2
    Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to current Fleet Air Arm squadron information

    Associations and Reunions
    No information

    815 squadron today. MOD website
    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  
    815 sqdn in Robert Horsten's FAA Squadrons  
            Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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