Operational History and Background
In October 1943, the squadron formed at Squantum, USA as a torpedo bomber reconnaissance Avenger squadron, and subsequently embarked on HMS Shah in January 1944 for the Indian Ocean where it was based at Cochin, Colombo Racecourse and Katukurunda, Ceylon.

In April 1944 a wildcat fighter flight was added, and during August 3 U-Boats were attacked. At the end of July 1944 Force 66, based around the two carriers HMS Shah, with HMS Begum formed a hunter-killer group, was sent from Colombo to the east African coast to search for German U-Boat U-198. It was located and attacked by an 851 Sqn. Avenger, with no apparent damage. Two days later it was found and attacked again by the squadron's CO, with uncertain results; but the aircraft was able to summon two frigates which sank the U-198 with all hands.

In February 1945 the ship had a refit at Durban and the squadron disembarked to Stamford Hill, where the Wildcats were withdrawn. In April and May strikes were made with hellcats from 804 squadron on Burma in Operation Dracula, from HMS Shah and subsequently HMS Emperor, as part of the invasion of Rangoon. On 15 May 1945 a Japanese cruiser Haguro and a destroyer Kamikaze were attacked from HMS Emperor. A flight of 4 Avengers sighted the enemy convoy and attacked at once. 851 squadron was to carry out its first dive-bombing attacks against the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro, suffering losses in both attacks for little return. The lead aircraft was shot down and the crew taken prisoner. Having located and reported the target, the Haguro of 13,380 tons was sunk by destroyers in a night torpedo action..

The squadron subsequently disembarked at Katukurunda, Colombo Racecourse and Trincomalee with brief periods on HMS Shah.  Finally, after VJ-Day the squadron embarked on HMS Shah in September 1945 without their aircraft to the UK where the squadron was disbanded.

In 1947 the Royal Australian Navy formed its own Fleet Air Arm. 851 was one of the unit numbers transferred from the RN, and 851 Sdqn. RAN formed at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, on 3 August 1954.

Battle Honours
Norway 1944, Malaya 1945 and Burma 1945
Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel
  • L/C(A) AM Tuke, DSC, RN Oct 1943-Sept 1943
  • L/C(A) MT Fuller, DSC, RNVR Sept 1944-end of WW2
  • Avenger I Oct 1943-end of WW2
  • Wildcat V April 1944-Feb 1945
  • Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to current Fleet Air Arm squadron information

    Associations and Reunions
    No information

    851 squadron, RAN A history of the squadron from WW2 until after it joined the RAN 
    851 sqdn history and Robert Horsten's FAA
    Attack the Haguro Account of the FAa and RN attack on this Japanese cruiser
    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  
            Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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