Traces of World War 2 
FAA - No. 825 Squadron
10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940

      home - latest update 28 February 2008

FLEET AIR ARM, 825 SQUADRON - Fairey Swordfish Mk I

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On the outbreak of war, this torpedo spotter reconnaissance Swordfish squadron embarked from Dekheila, Egypt to HMS Glorious in search of enemy shipping in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

The ship returned to the Mediterranean in January 1940, the squadron operating from Hal Far, Malta until March 1940 when the ship was recalled for the defence of Norway. The squadron disembarked at Prestwick. HMS Glorious was sunk by the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst on 8 June 1940, and the squadron operated from Worthy Down, Detling and Thorney Island in operations against the advancing German forces in the Low countries and France.

Eight of the 12 aircraft were lost during the Dunkirk evacuations including the CO L/C JB Buckley RN, when 5 aircraft were lost in one bombing raid over France on 29 May 1940.

In July 1940 the remnants of the squadron were augmented to 9 aircraft and embarked on HMS Furious for operations in September including night attacks on Trondheim and Tromso.

In May 1941 Swordfishes of 825 Squadron crippled the Bismarck, shortly before it was sunk.

On 12th February 1942, led by Lt Commander Eugene Esmonde, VC, DSO, RN, 18 young aviators of the Royal Navy, who have since become known famously as the Channel Dash Heroes, took off from RAF Manston in six obsolete, fabric covered Fairey Swordfish biplanes, to attack the largest fleet of German warships ever assembled in WWII as they made a dash for safety through the Straights of Dover. Within twenty-five minutes of take off all the aircraft were destroyed by the enemy and only five crew members survived.


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Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940
Not all operations listed; those with fatal losses are.

24/05/1940: ? 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA, 1 MIA
26/05/1940: Artillery spotting, France. 1 MIA
28/05/1940: ? 3 Planes lost, 1 KIA, 3 or 4 POW
29/05/1940: Bombing raid over France. 3 Planes lost; 2 KIA, 2 MIA, at least 3 POW
10/06/1940: Sinking of HMS Glorious, 1 MIA

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24/05/1940: Dunkirk

Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, 5L
Operation: Dunkirk
Lost: 24/05/1940
Leading Airman Cyril A. Chichester, RN FAA/FX. 76379, H.M.S. Kestrel [Fleet Air Arm base at Worthy Down near Winchester], [825 Sqdn.], age 23, 24/05/1940, missing
Lieutenant (A) Michael R. North, RN, H.M.S. Glorious, [825 Sqdn.], age 25, 24/05/1940, Pihen-les-Guines War Cemetery, F
Shot down 5 miles SW of Calais. Target was to attack enemy gun positions in woods sw of Calais during Dunkirk Cover.

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26/05/1940: Artillery spotting, France

Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -5H
Operation: Artillery spotting
S/Lt J. B. Kiddle - safe
Lieutenant Geoffrey N. Beaumont, RN, H.M.S. Glorious, [825 Sqdn.], age unknown, 26/05/1940, missing
Naval Airman 1st Class V.S.A. Moore - safe
Swordfish '5H' of 825 squadron flown by Sub Lt JB Kiddle from Detling, after spotting for HMS Galatea off Calais in which two 4.7 field artillery believed destroyed, the Swordfish was attacked at 8000ft by two Bf109 NW of Songatte. During the violent evading action of diving and turning down at sea level, the observer Lt GN Beaumont was thrown out of the aircrfat and killed. The aircraft returned safely.

Sources (a.o.): British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day and CWGC.

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28/05/1940: bombing raid over Dunkirk

Type: Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: K6009, -?
Operation: bombing raid over Dunkirk
Lost: 28/05/1940
Capt WGS Aston - evaded
Sub-Lieutenant (A) Peter H. Rylands, RN, H.M.S. Glorious, [825 Sqdn.], age 19, 28/05/1940, Breskens (Kijkuit) General Cemetery, NL
Crashed on the Goodwin Sands.

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Type: Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: bombing raid over Dunkirk
Lost: 28/05/1940
Lt A.D. Neely, POW
Lt R.G. Wood, POW
Naval Airman/Telegraphist Air Gunner V.S.A. Moore, POW

Neely took part in the Stalag Luft III Great Escape 1944. He was the 28th escapee to crawl through the 25ft deep, 300ft long tunnel to freedom. He was only captured because his tie was recognised at a checkpoint. Recaptured and returned to Luft III, Sagan.

The same source that states the crew composition as above (Fleet Air Arm Archive), names JT Nicholson as pilot and is unsure whether or not V.S.A. Moore was 'recovered'.

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Type: Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: bombing raid over Dunkirk
Lost: 28/05/1940
Crashed into the sea on take off. The crew were unhurt.

Sources (a.o.): British and Other Navies in World War 2 Day-by-Day and CWGC.

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29/05/1940: Bombing raid over France

Five of the Squadrons aircraft were lost in a single bombing raid over France on 29 May 1940 (some sources state the date as 28/05; it is possible that the losses of 28/05 and 29/05 occured on the same day)
Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: Bombing raid, France
Lost: 29/05/1940
Leading Airman Leonard P. Gardner, RN FX/76361, H.M.S. Kestrel [825 Sqdn.], age 26, 29/05/1940, Bollezeele Communal Cemetery, F
Lieutenant (A) Robin H.G. Grey, RN, H.M.S. "Glorious" [825 Sqdn]. He was taken prisoner of war and died, age 24, of cancer in German captivity, 29/08/1941. He is buried at Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery, Poland.

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Type: Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: Bombing raid, France
Lost: 29/05/1940
Lieut-Commander James B. Buckley, POW
Lt R. G.Wood, POW
Crashed near Dunkirk.
Lt-Cmd Buckley was in command 825 sqdn. He escaped from Stalag Luft III in March 1943 and reached the north German coast successfully, only to be drowned trying to cross over to Sweden by canoe, 21 March 1943.

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Type: Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: Bombing raid, France
Lost: 29/05/1940
Acting Sub Lieutenant (A) Charles S.F. Hogg, RN, H.M.S. Glorious, [825 Sqdn.], age 21, 29/05/1940, missing
Leading Airman Herbert K. Murrin, RN FAA/FX. 76383, H.M.S. Kestrel [825 Sqdn.], age 23, 30/05/1940, missing [maybe registered one day later as missing?]

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Type: Fairey Swordfish Mk I
Serial number: ?, -?
Operation: Bombing raid, France
Lost: 29/05/1940
Name pilot unknown, KIA
Telegraphist Air Gunner F.G. Rumsey, POW
taking part in providing cover over Dunkirk,29.5.1940, during the Expeditionary Forces evacuation. Shot down.

The missing airmen are commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial.

According to Naval these were the losses on 29/05/1940:

In operations by 825 Squadron over Dunkirk. Five Swordfish were shot down by German fighters. Two were lost by other causes.

Leading Airman L.P. Gardner were killed when his Swordfish was shot down; Lt R. H.G.Grey was taken prisoner, but died as a POW on 29 August 1941.

Lt Cdr J. B. Buckley and Lt R. G.Wood were taken prisoner when their Swordfish crashed landed. Buckley died in POW camp on 21 March 1943.

S/Lt C.F. S. Hogg and Leading Airman H.K. Murrin was killed when their Swordfish crashed.

S/Lt (A) J. T. Nicholson and Naval Airman V. S. A. Moore were taken prisoner when their Swordfish crashed.

Lt A. D. Neely and Naval Airman F. G.Rumsey were taken prisoner when their Swordfish was shot down.

Two other Swordfish of the Squadron were also lost, but their crews were able to return to England through Dunkirk.

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10/06/1940: Sinking of HMS Glorious

Sergeant Leslie G. Hills, RAF 363628, 825 Sqdn., serving in H.M.S. Glorious, age 33, 10/06/1940, missing
Sgt Hills survived the sinking of HMS Glorious and must have died in a life boat, waiting for rescue.

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825 Squadron - Fleet Air Arm Archive
825 Squadron - Shearwater Aviation Museum, Canada
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database
Australian War Memorial
Bail-outs for 1940
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Casualty Lists Royal Navy
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945
Fleet Air Arm Officers' Association
Fleet Air Arm Museum
Obituary Lieutenant-Commander Pat Kingsmill
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
Royal Navy Historic Flight
The Second World War - a day by day account

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)
Ray Sturvivant, Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939-1945, Air Britain Historians Ltd, 1995

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Håkans aviation page (from Sweden, in English)
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This page is dedicated to the men of 825 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