Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945


 



FAA attack on Petsamo to assist its ally the Soviet Union, July 1941

A humiliating defeat in the air on 31 July, 1941, when German fighters shot down 15 British aircraft sent out from the carriers Victorious and Furious--with minimal loss by the Lufwaffe. Altogether 25 FAA aircrew were PoWs and 13 killed.


The German attack on the Soviet Union, commenced on 22 June 1941, with Operation Barbarossa. The intended Fleet Air Arm strikes on Petsamo & Kirkenes were decided at the highest level by Winston Churchill himself in an effort to practically support his new found ally, Stalin. The effort was intended to strike at the enemy lines of communications in Northern Norway and Finland. Operation "EF" entailed the passage of the high-speed minelayer, HMS Adventure to Archangel with a large load of mines, while the air groups of the two carriers struck at the presumed concentration of shipping in the two northern ports used by Nazi Gebirgs Korps Norge. The two strikes were from HMS Furious and Victorious on Petsamo and Kirkenes respectively on 30 July 1941.

Strike on Petsamo from HMS Furious
     812 Squadron: 9 Swordfish I TSRs
     817 Squadron: 9 Albacore I TSRs
     800 Squadron: 9 Fulmar II fighters
     880A Flight: 4 Sea Hurricane Ib fighters [Fleet defence]

Strike on Kirkenes from HMS Victorious
     827 Squadron: 12 Albacore I TSRs
     828 Squadron: 9 Albacore I TSRs
     809 Squadron: 12 Fulmar II fighters

The strike was intended to be a surprise attack. However, with the Arctic midnight sun conditions in midsummer surprise of darkness was not possible. The Fleet was sighted by a German shadowing Do-18 shortly before launch. The strike on Petsamo saw HMS Furious dispatch 9 Albacores (817) and 3 Fulmars of 801 sqdn in one sub-flight and 9 Swordfish of 812 sqdn and 3 Fulmars of 801 sqdn in a second sub-flight. In the event, the harbour was virtually empty, and flak was heavy. The aircraft claimed the sinking of a small steamer and the destruction of several jetties.  One Albacore and two Fulmars were lost.

The strike on Kirkenes was a disaster and the Luftwaffe were waiting. The attack on Kirkenes involved HMS Victorious dispatching 12 Albacores from 827 sqdn, eight Albacores from 828 sqdn, and nine Fulmars from 809 sqdn in two sub-flights. The defences were fully alerted, and the Luftwaffe's Bf-109s and Bf-110s were already in the air for aerial defence. The FAA squadrons claimed one 2,000 ton steamer sunk, another set afire, and minor damage ashore, as well as claiming two Bf-109s and one Bf-110 destroyed. Fleet Air Arm losses were severe, totalling eleven Albacores and two Fulmars with eight other Albacores being damaged. For all intents and purposes the entire 827 Albacore Squadron had ceased to exist.

Fleet Air Arm aircrews involved in the
Kirkenes/Petsamo raids

 

809 sqdn aircrew - Kirkenes strike

2 fulmar crews lost:

 (CO: Lt Cdr VC Grenfell DSO RN)

S-Lt. T. E. Blacklock, RN (P)
Lt. A. T. Easton,RN (O)

PoWs

 

 

S-Lt. R. S .Miller, RN (P)
LA Leslie Ernest Barrow (TAG) 

Miller PoW
LA Barrow recovered dead.

 

 


827 squadron aircrew - Kirkenes strike

827 Squadron lost six Albacores (14 PoWs, 5 aircrew killed)

(CO: Lt Cdr JA Stewart-Moore RN)

N4289:4B 
Lt. H. F. Bond (P), 
Lt. H. H. Bracken (O)
LA E. Lancaster (TAG)

All PoWs

 

 

N4364:4C
Lt. Maurice George McKendrick, RN (P)
Mid.(A) Eric Arthur Mills, RNVR (O)
LA Frank Sharples (TAG)

All killed

 

 

N4288:4F
Lt. A. Turnbull, RN
Lt H. K. Serjeant, RN
LA J. W. James (TAG)

All wounded and taken PoW

 

 

N4420:4G S
Lt. J. S. Olsen, RN
Sub Lt. A. J. Bolford
LA Harold John Robert Wade (TAG)

Pilot and observer PoWs, TAG killed

 

 

N4304:4H
Sub Lt. P. J. Greenslade, RN
Sub Lt. W. W. Parsons, RN
LA H. Pickup (TAG) 

All PoWs

 

 

N4389:4M
Sub Lt. D. Myles, RN
Sub Lt. A. P. Keep, RN
LA H. C. Griffin (TAG)

All PoWs

 

 

N4348:4L returned damaged

LA Ernest Percival Fabien (TAG) dead


828 squadron aircrew -Kirkenes strike

828 Squadron lost five Albacores (8 PoW, 7 killed):

(CO: Lt Cdr DE Langmore DSC RN)

N4325:5B
Sub Lt.(A) L. E. R. Bellairs
Sub Lt.(A) D. M. Lubbock
LA Cyril Francis Beer, RN (TAG) 

Pilot and observer PoWs. TAG killed

 

 

5C
Sub Lt.(A) Donald Richard McKay, RNVR (P)
Sub Lt. John Greves Paton, RNVR (O), LA Dennis William Corner (TAG) 

All killed

 

 

5K 
Lt.(A) Edward Eryl Hughes-Williams RNVR (P)
Sub Lt.(A) John James Robertson Davies (O)
LA Alfred Fox (TAG)

All killed

 

 

5L
Lt. R. Ross-Taylor,
Sub Lt. S. Clayton
LA Lionel William Miles (TAG)

All PoWs

 

 

N4359:5M
Sub Lt. C. V. Howard
Sub Lt. G. L. Turner
LA D. E. Palmer (TAG) 

All PoWs


800 squadron aircrew - Petsamo strike

800 Squadron lost two Fulmars (4 killed):

(CO: Lt Cdr JAD Wroughton DSC RN)

Fulmar X8624
Sub Lt.(A) Francis John Grandin Gallichan, RN (P)
PO(A) Joseph Foster Black (TAG)

Both killed

 

 

Fulmar N4029
Sub Lt. Edward Seymour Burke, RNVR (P)
LA James Beardsley DSM (TAG) 

Both killed. Force landed 6 miles off coast, crew both last seen alive in dinghy. 

 

 


 

817 squadron aircrew - Petsamo strike

817 Squadron lost one Albacore (3 escaped)

(Lt Cdr D Sanderson DSC RN) 

 

 

 

 

Albacore N4250
Lt. L. H. Lee (P)
Sub Lt. G. Gorrie (O)
LA N. F. Train (TAG) 

Shot down by a Bf-109, the crew escaped and was eventually picked up by the Russians


812 squadron aircrew - Petsamo strike

(CO: Lt Cdr WE Waters DFC RN)

Walthall, LED Lt RN
Waters, WE Lt Cdr DFC RN
Brown, AG PO(A)

Returned to Furious

 

 

Wilkinson, P McJ Sub Lt (A) RN
Plummer, LC Sub Lt (A) RN
Kerridge, E L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 

Cross, RP Sub Lt (A) RNVR
-
Cowan, EA L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 

Baker-Falkner, RS Lt RN
Phillips, PH Sub Lt (A) RNVR
Gill, DV PO(A)

Returned to Furious

 

 

Jones, FL Sub Lt (A) RNVR
Hyde, K Sub Lt (A) RNVR
Whitehouse, AF L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 

Heath, EL Sub Lt (A)
-
Cowsill, GE L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 

Maughan, JHD Lt (A) RN
Wild, GF Sub Lt (A) RNVR
Nicholas, PJ L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 

Kindell, CJK Lt RN
Edwards, LA Sub Lt RN
Stewart, J L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 

Sinclair, JD Sub Lt (A) RNVR
Hovington, KA Sub Lt (A) RNVR
Lock, SW L/A

Returned to Furious

 

 


880 sqdn aircrew - Fleet Defence

No aircraft lost

 (CO: Lt Cdr FEC Judd RN)

 

 

 

 



 

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 

 

WWII in the Arctic

 

Northern Convoys

Lend-lease and the northern convoys (in Russian) 

Boris Safonov's "British Show".

Best known Soviet fighter ace during the first period of the war, was young Boris
Safonov, who flew with 72 SAP (Composite Aviation Regiment) of the Air Force of the Soviet Northern Fleet in the Murmansk area in the far North. 

Aeroplane crash sites of Lapland

 

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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