Operational History and Background

Fairey Swordfish Mk.I L2732, 821 Sqn FAA, HMS Courageous, 1938

Just after the outbreak of war, this Swordfish torpedo spotter reconnaissance squadron from HMS Ark Royal attacked U-39 in the North west Approaches, then sailed with the ship to the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean in search of enemy shipping. The ship was recalled from the Mediterranean in April 1940 for the defence of Norway, when the squadron bombed enemy positions. On 21 June 1940 the squadron attempted an attack on the German battleship Scharnhorst, disbanding in December, although X flight continued with 6 aircraft on Malta convoys, to Gibraltar on HMS Argus and to Malta on HMS Ark Royal where the aircraft were absorbed into 815 squadron.

The squadron reformed in July 1941 at Detling for anti-submarine duties in the Orkneys, transferring to Egypt in November for Western Desert operations.

In March 1942 the squadron was re-equipped with 6 Albacore, flew missions to bomb Rhodes and then on return to Egypt continued to support ground forces from Maaten Bagush, Gambut and Daba.  In November 1942 the squadron transferred to Hal Far, Malta for operations against shipping to North Africa. Four aircraft moving in March 1943 to Castel Benito, Tripoli to provide support to RAF night bombing in Libya, then in June the entire squadron transferred to Tunis for anti-shipping duties. The squadron disbanded in October 1943 in the UK.

The squadron reformed in May 1944 as a torpedo bomber reconnaissance squadron with 12 Barracuda IIs, embarking on HMS Puncher in November 1944, carrying out mine-laying operations from February 1945 with Barracuda IIIs, and from April also with 6 Wildcat VIs until June 1944.

FAIREY BARRACUDA TB.II, DR219 "X", 821 Sqn RN, HMS Puncher, March 1944 [A0460]

In July 1944 the squadron embarked on HMS Trumpeter for the Far East, but saw no action before VJ-Day.
821 Squadron's Barracuda Mk.IIs were operational from May 1944 to April 1945, and its Barracuda TR.IIIs from January 1945 to February 1946. They were stationed aboard HMS Puncher during the following periods:

                      - 26 Nov. to 30 Nov. , 1944
                      - 30 Dec. 1944 to 12 Jan. 1945
                      - 17 Feb. to 24 Feb. , 1945
                      - 15 Mar. to 16 Mar. , 1945
                      - 23 Mar. to 28 Mar. , 1945
                      - 5 Apr. to 12 Apr. , 1945

The Commanding Officer of 821 Squadron during its time onboard Puncher was L/C(A) M. Thorpe, RN, who held that position from 1st May, 1944 to 13 June, 1945.

FAIREY BARRACUDA TR.III, MD837 "F", 821 Sqn RN, HMS Puncher, March 1945 [A0461]

        Last Modified: 23-2-2001


Return to Home Page


This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and is updated regularly.
© 2000-2001 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
Contact email: