808 Naval Air Squadron

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 as 808 Squadron RAN, a carrier-based attack squadron of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and saw action during the Korean War before disbanding again in 1958.

808 Naval Air Squadron/ 808 Squadron RAN
Crest 808sqn
Unit badge for 808 Squadron while in RAN service
Country United Kingdom (former)
Branch Royal Navy (former)
 Royal Australian Navy
TypeShip based helicopter squadron
RoleTactical Transport
SizeOne Squadron
Part ofFleet Air Arm
Motto(s)Strength in Unity
EquipmentMRH-90 Taipan
Battle honoursSpartivento 1940
'Bismarck' 1941
Malta Convoys 1941
Atlantic 1943
Salerno 1943
Normandy 1944
Burma 1945
Korea 1951-2


Royal Navy

808 Squadron was formed at RNAS Worthy Down in July 1940, flying twelve 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. Following this, the squadron was reassigned to RAF Fighter Command and was one of only two Allied naval aviation squadrons to take part in the Battle of Britain, the other being 804 Naval Air Squadron.

In September 1940, the squadron was assigned to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which was part of Force H, operating 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, and a fifth while defending Malta in May. The carrier was reassigned to the Atlantic in late May, as part of the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck. Following the successful sinking of the Bismarck, the carrier returned to the Mediterranean, with 807 and 808 Squadrons claiming fifteen aerial kills during July and August. 808 Squadron was embarked when Ark Royal was torpedoed and sunk by the U-81 on 13 November 1941. Although all of the squadron personnel survived the sinking, many of the aircraft were lost in the attack: the surviving aircraft were flown from Ark Royal before the carrier sank and on arrival in Gibraltar were merged with the survivors of 807 Squadron, which had also been embarked.

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 United Kingdom aboard HMS Hunter.

The Squadron was re-equipped in May 1944 at RNAS Lee-on-Solent with 20 Supermarine Seafire L.IIIs. At the same time, they were attached to No. 345 Reconnaissance Wing of the Royal Air Force Second Tactical Air Force. While part of this wing, 808 Squadron, along with three other FAA squadrons (885, 886 and 897) and two RAF squadrons (26 and 63), plus the USN's VCS-7, flying Spifire VBs, provided valuable target coordinates and fire control for RN and USN battleships and cruisers, during 20 days of operations during the Normandy Landings.[1] On D-Day, "pooling" of the spotting units' aircraft meant that all units flew either Spitfires or Seafires.[2] This role of "spotters" lasted until 26 June, by which time the fighting was too far inland to be covered by the ship's guns.

Following this, the squadron was re-equipped with 24 Hellcat Is and IIs. 808 Squadron was assigned to the British Eastern Fleet in January 1945, embarked aboard the escort carrier HMS Khedive. While part of the Eastern Fleet, the squadron operated off Malaya and Sumatra, with periods spent flying off HMS Emperor. They covered the re-occupation of Rangoon in Operation Dracula in May, carried out attacks against Japanese airfields in Sumatra in June and covered the re-occupation of Malaya after the Surrender of Japan; the squadron was disbanded at the end of the war.

Royal Australian Navy

Sea Fury 808 Sqn on HMAS Sydney (R17) c1951
Sea Fury of 808 Squadron landing on HMAS Sydney during the Korean War

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.

808 Squadron was one of three RAN squadrons embarked aboard Sydney during her deployment to the Korean War. 808 Squadron's tour of Korea primarily consisted of combat air patrols, ground attack support, armed reconnaissance, and anti-shipping strikes. In 1954, the squadron was decommissioned, but was re-formed a year later, equipped with de Havilland Sea Venom FAW.53s, and assigned to the new Australian carrier, HMAS Melbourne. 808 Squadron remained in service for three years, and was finally decommissioned on 1 December 1958.

808 Squadron re-formed in 2011 to operate the RAN's six MRH90 helicopters.[3] The squadron was formally recommissioned on 11 July 2013.[4]


MRH-90 August 2011
One of 808 Squadron's MRH90s in 2011

Current (2010s)

Korean War (1950s)

World War II (1940s)



  1. ^ Price 1991, pp.108–112.
  2. ^ Naval Aviation News May–June 1994, p.32.
  3. ^ Arney, Steve (2010). "Establishment of 808 Squadron: External Interface Complexities" (PDF). Presentation delivered to SMM Conference 2010. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Navy commissions 808 Squadron and new helicopter". Department of Defence. Retrieved 11 July 2013.


  • Hill, Steven D. "Invasion! Fortress Europe: Naval aviation in France, summer 1944" Naval Aviation News May–June 1994.
  • Price, Alfred. Spitfire a Complete Fighting History. Enderby, Leicester, UK:The Promotional Reprint Company Limited, 1991. ISBN 1-85648-015-1

External links

De Havilland Sea Venom

The de Havilland Sea Venom is a British postwar carrier-capable jet aircraft developed from the de Havilland Venom. It served with the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and with the Royal Australian Navy. The French Navy operated the Aquilon, a version of the Sea Venom FAW.20 licence-built by SNCASE (Sud-Est).

Duncan Lewin

Edgar Duncan Goodenough Lewin CB CBE DSO DSC* (9 August 1912 – 24 November 1983) was an officer of the Royal Navy during the Second World War and the Korean War. A naval aviator, he was involved in the Battle of the River Plate and carried out attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz. He also commanded aircraft carriers during the Korean War.Lewin was born Edgar Duncan Goodenough Lewin in Farnham, Surrey on 9 August 1912. Lewin, a pilot on HMS Ajax during the Battle of the River Plate where he reported on the movements of the Graf Spee. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He took part in attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz before moving to the Far East later in the war.He was the commander of the aircraft carrier HMS Glory (during the Korean War). He also commanded HMS Eagle before becoming Director of Plans at the Admiralty, and then retiring from the Navy in 1957.He became managing director of Blackburn Aircraft Limited between 1971 and 1977 before moving to Hawker Siddeley as a sales director.

Giles Guthrie

Sir Giles Connop McEachern Guthrie, 2nd Baronet, (21 March 1916 – 31 December 1979) was an English aviator, merchant banker and later, an airline industry executive, serving as the chairman and chief executive of the state owned airline British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

List of Fleet Air Arm aircraft squadrons

This is a list of Fleet Air Arm squadrons.

Operation Livery

Operation Livery was a series of naval air strikes on northern Japanese occupied Malaya and air cover missions for minesweeping operations by the British in July 1945 during World War II. It was carried out by the 4th and 7th Minesweeping Flotillas, taking place off Phuket Island, Thailand. It was the last action of the Eastern Fleet during the war.

RAF Dundonald

Royal Air Force station Dundonald or more simply RAF Dundonald is a former Royal Air Force station located in Ayrshire, Scotland, three miles north-east from the coastal town of Troon.

During its brief existence during the Second World War the airfield was used for training purposes, most notably by 516 Squadron providing air support for commando and assault troop training.

RAF Heathfield

RAF Heathfield, sometimes known as RAF Ayr/Heathfield due to its proximity to Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which was also used by military flights, is a former Royal Air Force station.

Like many other wartime airfields, its runways were of the triangular layout.

RAF Kirkistown

RAF Kirkistown is a former Royal Air Force satellite airfield located 6.3 miles (10.1 km) of Ballyhalbert, County Down, Northern Ireland and 6.3 miles (10.1 km)

It was a satellite to the RAF Fighter Command airfield at Ballyhalbert on the Ards Peninsula.

RAF Second Tactical Air Force

The RAF Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF) was one of three tactical air forces within the Royal Air Force (RAF) during and after the Second World War. It was made up of squadrons and personnel from the RAF, the air forces of the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe. Renamed as British Air Forces of Occupation in 1945, 2TAF was recreated in 1951 and became Royal Air Force Germany in 1959.

RAF Sydenham

Royal Air Force Sydenham or more simply RAF Sydenham is a former Royal Air Force station in Northern Ireland. In the 1970s it was the main servicing base for Blackburn Buccaneer aircraft, employing 650 civilian workers.

RAF Worthy Down

RAF Worthy Down, was a Royal Air Force station built located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north west of Winchester, Hampshire the airfield was also known as RNAS Worthy Down (HMS Kestrel) and HMS Ariel. The Royal Navy used the airfield from 1939 until 1942. Being completed in 1918, the airfield was first manned by No. 58 Squadron RAF. The airfield remained in use throughout the Second World War and was made into an engineering school in 1952. The airfield was in use until 1960. The station is now Worthy Down Barracks.

RNAS Ballyhalbert

RNAS Ballyhalbert (later HMS Corncrake) was an airfield near Ballyhalbert, in North (County) Down, Northern Ireland during the Second World War, used by the Royal Air Force in the defence of Belfast and, later, by the Royal Navy, when it was a naval air station commissioned as HMS Corncrake.

Aircraft types using the airfield included the Supermarine Seafire, and airmen from Australia, New Zealand and Poland were based there. The graves of deceased servicemen from the airbase can be found in the graveyard of Ballyhalbert Church.

RNAS Charlton Horethorne (HMS Heron II)

RNAS Charlton Horethorne (HMS Heron II) is a former Royal Naval Air Station in the hamlet of Sigwells in Somerset, England. It opened in 1942, as a flying training base under the administrative care of HMS Heron. It closed in 1948 and has since been returned to agricultural use.

RNAS Donibristle

RNAS Donibristle is a former Fleet Air Arm base located 2.7 miles (4.3 km) east of Rosyth, Fife, Scotland and 8.7 miles (14.0 km) northwest of Edinburgh, Lothian.

From 1918 to 1939 the station was called RAF Donibristle.

RNAS Eglinton (HMS Gannet)

Royal Naval Air Station Eglinton or RNAS Eglinton was a Royal Naval Air Station located 1.3 miles (2.1 km) north east of Eglinton, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It opened as a Royal Air Force Station (RAF Eglinton) in 1941, before being transferred to the Fleet Air Arm in 1943.

The airfield was operational between 1943 and 1959.

RNAS Henstridge (HMS Dipper)

Royal Naval Air Station Henstridge or RNAS Henstridge (HMS Dipper) is a former Fleet Air Arm base located 7 miles (11 km) west of Shaftesbury, Dorset and 12.4 miles (20.0 km) east of Yeovil, Somerset in South West England.

RNAS Machrihanish (HMS Landrail)

Royal Naval Air Station Machrihanish (HMS Landrail), is a former Royal Navy air station, close to Campbeltown in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

RNAS St Merryn (HMS Vulture)

RNAS St Merryn (HMS Vulture) is a former Royal Naval Air Station of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. The site is located 7.35 miles (11.83 km) northeast of Newquay, Cornwall and 11.8 miles (19.0 km) northwest of Bodmin, Cornwall, England.

Ronald Cuthbert Hay

Ronald Cuthbert Hay, (4 October 1916 – 22 November 2001) was a British naval aviator and the only Royal Marine fighter ace. He joined the Royal Marines in 1935 and then served as an aviator with the Fleet Air Arm. In 1940 he joined 801 Naval Air Squadron flying the two seater Blackburn Skua on HMS Ark Royal for the Norwegian Campaign, claiming his first victory on his first operational flight. He took part in operations covering the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the Dunkirk beaches. Then flying the Fairey Fulmar joined 808 Naval Air Squadron during the Battle of Britain.

In 1944 Hay became wing leader of the 47th Naval Fighter Wing flying the Vought F4U Corsair aboard HMS Victorious in the Far East. He led the wing during many of the major British air attacks on the Japanese in Sumatra. By the end of the war he had claimed 4 aircraft destroyed solo and 9 shared destroyed. After the war he transferred to the Royal Navy, reaching the rank of commander before retiring in 1966. Hay later worked in the Mediterranean for 12 years chartering boats and spent time renovating an old mill at Amesbury, near Stonehenge. He appeared in several television documentaries about the Second World War.

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