Traces of World War 2 
FAA - No. 803 Squadron
01/01/1940 - 30/06/1940

      home - latest update 30 June 2008

FLEET AIR ARM 803 SQUADRON - Bomber, Blackburn Skua

History | Operations and losses | Sources | Links | Books | Questions and/or remarks

At the outbreak of war, the squadron embarked on HMS Ark Royal with Skua and Rocs from Scapa for patrols off Norway and Anti-submarine operations in the North West Approaches, during which time whilst attacking U-30 on 14 September 1940 two Skua were lost (see 'Flying Marines' - Guy Griffith).

The first German aircraft to be shot down by any British aircraft was by the squadron on 26 September when it destroyed a Do18.

The squadron, with only Skua, embarked on HMS Glorious in April for operations to defend Norway, and was operating from Hatston when it and 800 squadron dived-bombed the German cruiser Königsberg at Bergen. But in June only two aircraft from 803 Squadronn survived an attack on the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst whilst operating from HMS Ark Royal.

803 Squadron went ashore at the Orkney Islands to operate from Hatston, along with 801 Squadron, flying missions to the Norwegian coast around Bergen and keeping up pressure on the Germans during the crucial summer and autumn of 1940.

Shipping and numerous oil tank installation were the most common target for the Skuas and they proved much more effective than conventional 'level' bombers, but they met increasing numbers of Messerschmitt Bf109 fighters and these took an escalating toll.

Source: Skuas over Norway by John Dell

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Operations and losses 01/01/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed; those with fatal losses are.

11/01/1940: ?, UK. 1 Plane lost, 2 KIA

09/05/1940: Norway. 1 Plane lost
14/05/1940: ?, Norway. 2 Planes lost, 2 MIA
16/05/1940: ? 1 Plane lost, 1 WIA
13/06/1940: Scharnhorst, Norway. 4 Planes lost, 2 DOW, 6 POW

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Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: ?, UK
Lost: 11/01/1940
 Midshipman (A) [Pilot] John D.W. Barr, RN [no number], H.M.S. Merlin, [803 Sqdn.], age unknown, 11/01/1940, New Romney Cemetery, UK
Leading Airman George E. Uren, RN FX77469, H.M.S. Merlin, [803 Sqdn.], age 22, 11/01/1940, Ford Park Cemetery (formerly Plymouth Old Cemetery) (Pennycomequick), UK
Midshipman (A) J D W Barr and Leading Airman G E Uren died of injuries after their Skua of 803 Squadron force landed at Tor Ness Point, Stronsay.

Sources: CWGC and Naval

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A Skua of 803 Squadron force landed near Grondalen in Haugfjell. Midshipman C. Treen and Naval Airman A. E. T. Goble were later picked up by destroyer BEDOUIN.

Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: Norway
Lost: 09/05/1940
Midshipman C. Treen - rescued
Naval Airman A. E. T. Goble - rescued

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14/05/1940: ?, Norway

In air combat off Skaanland near Tranoy, two Skuas of 803 Squadron from aircraft carrier Ark Royal were lost.

Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: ?, Norway
Lost: 14/05/1940
Lieutenant Michael C.E. Hanson, RN, H.M.S. Ark Royal [803 Sqdn.], DSC, age 28, 14/05/1940, missing
Lieutenant William P. Lucy, RN, H.M.S. Ark Royal [CO 803 Sqdn.], DSO, age 29, 14/05/1940, missing
Killed when aircraft blew up whilst attacking He111

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Blackburn Skua
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: ?, Norway
Lost: 14/05/1940
Lt T.E. Gray - safe
Leading Airman A.G. Clayton - safe
Ran out of fuel and force landed. Rescued by destroyer HMS Encounter.

Sources: British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day, CWGC and Skuas over Norway

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16/05/1940: ?

The Luftwaffe sent twin engined fighter's, both Messerschmitt 110s and the fighter version of the Junkers 88 to engage the Skuas. The Messerchmitts shot down one 803 Squadron Skua (but the crew were rescued) but lost one of their own to the rear gunner of another Skua. The formation of six Ju88 fighters were engaged by 803 Squadron and two of them were destroyed for no loss to the Skuas.

Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: ?, -?
Lost: 16/05/1940
Leslie A. 'Skeets' Harris, WIA

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13/06/1940: Scharnhorst, Norway

Eight of the fifteen Skuas from 800 and 803 Squadron,were shot down during their attack on Scharnhorst in Trondheim harbour. One of the surviving Skua pilots was 24 year old Donald Gibson, much later to become Vice-Admiral Sir Donald Gibson. In his memoirs Gibson compared the attack on the Scharnhorst to the Charge of the Light Brigade and said "In future all admirals should ideally be shot at in an aeroplane while they are still young." (see also: Skuas over Norway)

Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: L2992, 7L
Operation: Scharnhorst, Norway
Lost: 13/06/1940
Sub-Lieutenant (A) John A. Harris, RNVR, F.A.A. 803 Sqdn. H.M.S. Ark Royal, age 23, 13/06/1940, Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery, Norway
Naval Airman 1st Class Stuart R.D. Stevenson, RN D/JX 151691, F.A.A. 803 Sqdn. H.M.S. Ark Royal, age 20, 31/05/1941, Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery, Norway
Crashed at Kjøra, Geitastrand, Norway. The two pilots were brought to Orkdal hospital. Sub Lieutenant Harris died just after arrival. Naval Airman Stevenson died in a Norwegian Hospital Ship a year later as prisoner of war.
See WW2 Allied Airwrecks Norway.

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Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: L2963, 7F
Operation: Scharnhorst, Norway
Lost: 13/06/1940
Lieutenant Cecil H. Filmer, PoW
Midshipman Thomas A. McKee, PoW
L2963 was shot down by Oblt.G.Gollob of I./ZG 76. Ditched at Frøsetskjæret, Byneset, Norway. See WW2 Allied Airwrecks Norway.

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Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: L2991, 7A
Operation: Scharnhorst, Norway
Lost: 13/06/1940
Lieutenant Peter E. Fanshawe, PoW
Lt/Cdr. John Casson, PoW
Ditched into the sea at Kjøra, Norway. They were shot down by Ofw.E. Sawallisch of II./JG 7. Rescued by locals and spent the rest of the war as PoW at Stalag Luft III. See WW2 Allied Airwrecks Norway.

Casson was first taken to Dulag Luft (Frankfurt), then Stalag Luft III.
He acted as a codemaster for MI9 in PoW camps, and assisted Fanshawe in his role as a member of the Luft III "Great Escape" Executive Commitee. John Casson was also a leading actor in Stalag Luft III with Rupert Davies ex 812 squadron.

Peter "Hornblower" Fanshawe was a member of the "Great Escape" Executive Commitee in Stalag Luft III. Fanshawe was the real sand dispersal specialist at Luft III. The method of sand disposal shown in the film is an exact match for the real events. Fanshawe was transferred to Belaria shortly before the escape.

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Type: Blackburn Skua
Serial number: L2955, 7Q
Operation: Scharnhorst, Norway
Lost: 13/06/1940
Sub-Lieutnant Richard Edward Bartlett, PoW
Naval Airman Lloyd George Richards, PoW
L2955 was shot down by Ltn.Köhler of I./ZG 76. See WW2 Allied Airwrecks Norway.

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803 Squadron - Fleet Air Arm Archive
Air of Authority
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database
Australian War Memorial
Bail-outs for 1940
T.K. Derry (1952), The Campaign in Norway
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Casualty Lists Royal Navy
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945
Fleet Air Arm Museum
Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945: Prisoners of War
Flying Marines
Lee-on-Solent Memorial (missing FAA members)
Prisoners of War captured in Europe 1940
RAF - Campaign Diary - The Battle of France (May-June 1940)
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
Royal Air Force History Section
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
The Second World War - a day by day account

Skuas over Norway
The War in France and Flanders, 1939-1940, by Major L.F. Ellis, 1954

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Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008
Norman Franks, Air Battle Dunkirk
Ross McNeill 'Royal Air Force Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War' (Midland Counties)

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Abbreviations used in the Royal Air Force
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Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
Armée de l'Air - Order of Battle, 10th May 1940
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Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
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British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
Canada's Air Force History
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Czechoslovak airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
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Dutch Pilots in RAF Squadrons
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Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland 1939-1946
Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
'High flight', poem by John Gillespie Magee
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, poem by W.B. Yeats
Jagdgeschwader 27 (in German)
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The Aerodrome - Aces and Aircraft of World War 1
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This page is dedicated to the men of FAA 803 Squadron.

© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to