808 Naval Air Squadron

808 Naval Air Squadron

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=808 Naval Air Squadron

branch=Royal Navy/Royal Australian Navy
type=Carrier based squadron
role=Offensive Support
command_structure=Fleet Air Arm
motto=Strength in Unity
battle_honours=Spartivento 1940
'Bismarck' 1941
Malta Convoys 1941
Atlantic 1943
Salerno 1943
Normandy 1944
Burma 1945
Korea 1951-2

808 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm carrier based squadron formed in July 1940. It served on a number of the Navy's aircraft carriers during the Second World War, serving in most of the theatres of the war, before decommissioning at the end of the war. It was re-formed in 1950 and operated on ships of the Royal Australian Navy, seeing action in the Korean War, before being finally decommissioned in 1958.


With the Royal Navy

808 Squadron was formed at RNAS Worthy Down in July 1940, flying 12 Fairey Fulmars in the role of a Fleet Fighter squadron. They were initially assigned to the Isle of Man to carry out patrols over the Irish Sea, but were soon transferred to Wick for the defence of the dockyards. They were then reorganised to serve with RAF Fighter Command, becoming one of only two Fleet Air Arm squadrons to take part in the Battle of Britain, the other being 804 Naval Air Squadron. By October they had received their first carrier assignment and joined HMS "Ark Royal" with Force H in the Mediterranean. The squadron shot down two enemy aircraft in an attack on Sardinia in November, followed by another two in operations over Sicily in January 1941. They then shot down another while defending Malta in May.

The squadron sailed with "Ark Royal" into the Atlantic later in May to hunt the German battleship "Bismarck". They then returned to the Mediterranean after the sinking of the "Bismarck", and in July and August claimed 15 aircraft shot down with 807 Naval Air Squadron. They were still aboard "Ark Royal" when she was torpedoed and sunk by Friedrich Guggenberger's "U-81" in November, with the loss of many of the squadron's aircraft. The remaining aircraft were landed at Gibraltar, and were then merged into 807 Squadron.

808 Squadron was re-formed with six Fulmar IIs aboard HMS "Biter" in January 1942. They came aboard HMS "Battler" between April and May 1943, and took part in operations covering the Salerno landings in September 1943. They then formed part of the 3rd Naval Fighter Wing, returning to the UK aboard HMS "Hunter". They were re-equipped in May 1944 at RNAS Lee-on-Solent with 20 Supermarine Seafire L.IIIs and attached to No. 345 Reconnaissance Wing of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, Royal Air Force. They covered the Normandy Landings, and were then re-equipped with 24 Hellcat Is and IIs. They embarked aboard HMS "Khedive" in January 1945 and sailed to join the Eastern Fleet.

Here 808 Squadron operated off Malaya and Sumatra, with periods spent flying off HMS "Emperor". They covered the re-occupation of Rangoon in May, carried out strikes against Japanese airfields in Sumatra in June, and covered the re-occupation of Malaya after the Japanese surrender. The squadron was decommissioned at the end of the war.

With the Royal Australian Navy

808 Squadron was re-formed on 25 April 1950 at RNAS St Merryn, equipped with Hawker Sea Furies and assigned to operate with the Royal Australian Navy. The squadron was embarked aboard HMAS "Sydney" as part of the 21st Carrier Air Group, and operated in the Korean War. After the end of the war, 808 Squadron was again decommissioned, in 1954, but was re-formed the following year to operate aboard HMAS "Melbourne". The squadron served for three years, being finally decommissioned at Nowra on 1 December 1958.


* [http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/Squadrons/808.html 808 Squadron at the Fleet Air Arm archive]
* [http://www.navy.gov.au/808_Squadron 808 Squadron's career with the RAN]

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