Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945


 


FAA and the Strike on Taranto

Commemorating in 2000 the 60th Anniversary of Operation Judgement, night air strike on the Italian fleet and harbour at Taranto
11 November 1940




The attack on Taranto was the first major victory for naval air power in the world and blueprint for the strike on Pearl Harbor. The Fleet Air Arm played an active part in the fight against the Axis forces in the Mediterranean, perhaps their greatest event was the strike against the Italian Fleet at Taranto, 11 November 1940 by two FAA squadrons and 40 or so men who carried out this daring raid. This page is dedicated to their dedication and bravery. 


At Taranto, the two anchorages of Mare Grande and Mare Piccolo make up one of the best harbours in the Mediterranean, and on the day of the Fleet Air Arm attack, six Italian battleships with several cruisers and destroyers lay at anchor in the Mare Grande.

Shortly before 2100, on 11 November 1940, 12 swordfish biplanes took off from the Illustrious. Six carried torpedoes, four carried six 250lb bombs and 2 had four bombs and heavy illuminating flares.All carried extra fuel tanks either in the rear cockpits or slung on the outside.

By 2250 they were approaching Taranto. Anti-aircraft and machine-gun fire rose to meet them.  Just off Cape San Vito, the two aircraft with flares swung away to starboard while the first wave of aircraft lined up to attack through the line of Barrage balloons, from the east. As they flew in across the bay, in front lay the battleship Cavour. The second wave which arrived an hour later swung in over Cape Rondinella, but by 0300 all except two aircraft were safely back aboard Illustrious.  They had left Taranto in chaos. The Italian battleships Cavour, Littorio and Duilio had all been successfully torpedoed; Cavour was permanently out of action as were the other two for many months. Behind Mare Grande an aircraft hanger had been left blazing and a cruiser damaged by bombs. Of the two Swordfish that failed to return, one crew member had been taken prisoner. The other two were killed during the attack.

The Fleet Air Arm ships and squadrons involved in the strike


Aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious with FAA Squadrons 813, 815, 819 and 824 

 

Fairey Swordfish Aircrew taking part in the raid on Taranto, 11 November 1940

First Strike Fleet Air Arm

 

Aircrew (listed by crew in each aircraft)

 

Williamson, K Lt Cdr RN 
(failed to return POW) 

Scarlett, NJ RN 
(failed to return POW)

Sparke, PDJ Sub Lt (A) DSC RN 

Neale, ALO Sub Lt (A) RN 

Macaulay, ASD Sub Lt (A) RN 

Wray, ALO Sub Lt (A) RN 

Kemp, N McI Lt RN 

Bailey, RA Sub Lt Sub Lt (A) RN 

Swayne, HAI Lt RN 

Buscall, J Sub Lt RNVR 

Maund, MR Lt RN 

Bull, WA Sub Sub Lt (A) RN 

Kiggell, LJ Lt (A) RN 

Janvrin, HRB Lt RN 

Lamb, CB Lt (A) RN 

Grieve, KG Lt RN 

Patch, O Capt RM 

Goodwin, DG Lt RN 

Sarra, WC Sub Lt (A) RN 

Bowker, J Mid (A) RN 

Forde, AJ Sub Lt (A) RN 

Mardel-Ferriera, A Sub Lt RNVR

Murray, JB Lt (A) RN 

Paine, SM Sub Lt (A) RN 



Second Strike Fleet Air Arm

 

Aircrew

 

Hale, JW Lt Cdr RN 

Carline, GA Lt RN 

Bayley, GW Lt RN
(FTR killed) 

 Slaughter, JH Lt RN 
(FTR killed) 

Lee, CSC Lt(A) RN 

Jones, PD Sub Lt (A) RN 

Torrens-Spence, FMA Lt RN 

Sutton, AWF Lt RN 

Welham, JWG Lt (A) RN 

Humphreys, P Lt RN 

Hamilton, RWV Lt RN 

Weeks, JR Sub Lt (A) RN 

Skelton, RG Lt (A) RN 

Perkins, EA Sub Lt (A) RNVR 

Clifford, EW Lt RN 

Going, GRM Lt RN 

Morford, WD Lt (A) 

Green, RAF Sub Lt (A) 



 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

Taranto 1940 by FAA Aircrewmans association

 

Taranto: Account by FAAOA

 

Order of Battle Attack on Taranto 11-12 November 1940 by warships1.com 

 

Taranto by British-Forces.com 

 

Account by Alex's Military History home page

 

Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) 

 'Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 


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