Operational History and Background

The squadron officially formed at Brunswick in March 1944 as a fighter squadron with 18 Corsair Is, IIs and IIIs, embarking in June 1944 with Corsair IIs on HMS Smiter for the UK.

Corsairs of 1841 sqdn enroute to Operation Goodwood I attack on the German Battleship Tiritz, 22 August 1944
HMS Devonshire and HMS Trumpeter in view

In July 1944, the squadron embarked from Hatston on to HMS Formidable for operations against the German battleship Tirpitz in Kaa Fjord, Arctic Norway, commencing with operation Mascot on 17 July 1944, when the senior pilot Lt HS Mattholie RN was lost with the Wing Leader L/C RS Baker-Falkner RN of No 8 TBR Barracuda Wing.

Taken shortly after the Operation Goodwood II strike on 22 August 1944.
Tirpitz is located in the upper right corner, hiding behind the smoke.

In August 1944 the squadron participated in the Operations Goodwood against the Tirpitz. In September 1944 the squadron joined the 6th Naval Fighter Wing, sailing with HMS Formidable for the Far East, detachments disembarking at North Front, Gibraltar and Dekheila till January 1945, embarking again on HMS Formidable at the end of the month and arriving at Puttalam in February 1945.

In April and May 1945 the squadron took part in operations against the Sakishimo Gunto islands, and in June the 6th Naval Fighter Wing merged into the 2nd Carrier Air Group.
Shortly before VJ-Day the squadron was involved in attacks against the Japanese mainland near Tokyo. On 9 August 1945 Lt R H Gray DSC RCNVR was killed whilst attacking a Japanese destroyer, being awarded a posthumous Victorious Cross.

Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray VC, DSC RCNVR of 1841 squadron 1944-1945

As the US Third Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet bombarded Japan, the Royal and Dominion Navies won their last Victoria Cross of World War 2. Lt Robert Gray RCNVR, Corsair fighter-bomber pilot with 1841 squadron of HMS Formidable pressed home an attack on warships in Onagawa harbour, north-eastern Honshu on the 9 August 1945. Under heavy fire, he sank his target before crashing in flames. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the fourth and last naval airman to be so honoured.

The ship then withdrew to Australia. The squadron disembarked temporarily to Ponam just after VJ-Day, re-embarking for Nowra the following day and onwards to the UK in HMS Victorious.

Battle Honours
Norway 1944, Okinawa 1945, Japan 1945
Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel
  • L/C(A) RL Bigg-Wither, DSC & bar, RN March 1944-end of WW2

Pacific Campaign 1945. Victoria Cross winner Lt Gray VC in his aircraft solving a minor problem before flight. The ship is HMS Formidable


  • Corsair I March 1944-April 1944
  • Corsair II March 1944-April 1944
  • Corsair III April 1944-July 1944
  • Corsair II June 1944-July 1945
  • Corsair IV March 1945-end of WW2
  • Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to current Fleet Air Arm squadron information

    Associations and Reunions

  • 1841 Naval Air Squadron.
  • Contact details via FAAOA
    World Aircraft Carrier Lists and Photo Gallery - from 1913 to 2000. Naval History Information Center, Haze Gray & Underway American based World Aircraft Carrier Lists & Photo Gallery - one of the definitive online sources for British and world aircraft carrier & seaplane tender data, histories and images - over 1000 photos. 
    Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8  
    Robert Horsten's FAA
            Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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