Crest photo courtesy of R.D-C (

Operational History and Background

Formed as a fighter squadron in May 1940, the squadron crews trained on Roc seaplanes but the squadron was soon disbanded on 13 May 1940.

In January 1941, the squadron was reformed at Aboukir with Fulmar IIs and a few Buffaloes, with detachments embarking on HMS Illustrious for operations in defence of Crete.

GLOSTER SEA GLADIATOR I, N5567 "6C", 805 Sqn RN, Crete, May/June 1941 [A0195]

Account of 805 squadron and the Brewster Buffalo 1941

805 Squadron formed Feb 1941 with 12 Fairey Fulmar two-seat fighters, carrier capable, to support a planned invasion of Rhodes, off the coast of Turkey, held by Italians. Based at Maleme in northeastern Crete, the squadron also had three Buffaloes (AS419, AS420, AX814) along with 6 more Fulmars flew in from Dekheila (?) on 6 March 1941. The Buffalo flight was commanded by Lt. Rupert Brabner, formerly Member of Parliament for Hyth. The Brewsters were equipped with an antique post-and-ring sight, proof that they were Belgian 339Bs rather than the British 339E model. 

Recollections by 805 squadron CO, Lt Cmdr Alan Black, RN: 

"The Buffalo was a delight to fly--very maneuverable (compared to the Fulmar). It would have been an excellent fighter but the guns could not be fired because the ends of the wires which were part of the interrupter gear, failed and 805 did not have the necessary spares." He does not explain what happened to the two .50-cal wing guns. Evidently there was a story abroad that Black thought so little of the Brewstger that he tried to swap them for Gloster biplane fighters, for he added: "At no time did I request that the Buffalos [sic] be exchanged for Sea Gladiators, but I do remember that in the light of the inadequacy of Fulmars against CR43s I requested that the Sea Gladiators, if not required for other operations, should be send to Maleme, to reinforce 805." (p141) March 18, Lt. Brabner had his first skirmish, chasing a Ju88 without catching it--while flying a Fulmar, perhaps indicative of his opinion of the Buffalo. He was up again next day, mounted on AS419, only to turn back because of engine trouble. He crash- landed short of the airfield, and the Brewster flipped over on its back, fortunately without injury to the MP. A photograph shows it resting very sturdily on its plexiglass canopy--an evident tribute to Dayton Brown's roll-bar. That seems to have been the Brewster's only sortie from Crete. In the British Order of Battle on April 5, 805 Squadron is shown only as having Fulmars and Sea Gladiators on strength, and by the end of April: "The two remaining Buffalos were also totally unservicable now."

When German paratroopers over-ran Crete at the end of May, the Brewsters were apparently left in the boneyard. German photographers delighted in photographing their planes landing over the hulk of a derelict Brewster. 

Ref: Christopher Shores et al: Air War for Yugoslavia Greece and Crete 1940-41 (London: Grub Street 1987) 

In July 1941 the squadron re-equipped with 12 Martlet Is as part of the Western Desert RN Fighter squadron, serving with 264, 269 and subsequently 234 RAF Wings until the joint unit was disbanded in February 1942. The squadron moved to the Canal Zone in August 1942 and then south to Kenya, before disbanding in January 1943.

Martlet III (F4F-3A), #3876, 805 Squadron, Dekheila, August 1941,
© Scott Fraser

The squadron reformed in July 1945 at Machrihanish with 25 Seafire L.IIIs and later XVs for service with 20th Carrier Air Group until the end of the war.

On 28 August 1948, 805 squadron reformed at Eglington as a Royal Australian Navy squadron equipped with Sea Furies. They embarked on HMAS Sydney.

HAWKER SEA FURY F.10, TF925 "110/JR", 805 Sqn RAN, Eglinton, 1948 [A0204]

Battle Honours
Crete 1941, Libya 1941 - 2

Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel

  • Major RC Hay, RM May 1940-May 1940
  • L/C AF Black, RN Jan 1941-May 1942
  • L/C TP Coode, DSC, RN May 1942-Aug 1942
  • L/C(A) MF Fell, RN Aug 1942-Jan 1943
  • L/C(A) PJ Hutton, DSC, RNVR July 1945-end of WW2
  • Aircraft
    • Roc I May 1940-May 1940
    • Fulmar I Jan 1941-July 1941
    • Sea gLadiator April 1941 Jun 1941
    • Buffalo I Jan 1941-Aug 1941
    • Hurricane I May 1941-June 1941
    • Martlet I July 1941-Dec 1942
    • Martlet II Sept 1942-Sept 1942
    • Martlet IV Dec 1942-Jan 1943
    • Seafire L.III July 1945-Aug 1945
    • Seafire F.XV Aug 1945-end of WW2
    Sea Gladiators in Gladiator production for the RAF and FAA Serials: N5509, N5513, N5517, N5535, N5538, N5567, N5568. Notes: N5509; 805 Sq. 27/3/41. N5513; marked 6F, lost on Crete. N5517; lost on ferry flight from Maleme to Egypt on 15/5/41. N5538; 805 Sq. 27/3/41. N5567; to 805 Sq. 23/3/41; marked 6C. N5568; 805 Sq. 17/4/41.
    Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to the current squadron information

    Associations and Reunions
    No information

    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. 
    Gloster Gladiator in Commonwealth squadron service (Håkans Aviation page) Gladiator production for the RAF and FAA Serials
    Sturtivant, R & Ballance, T  (1994). 'The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm' Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1994 ISBN: 0 85130 223 8  
    An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS including GLOSTER SEA GLADIATOR Mk.I, 805 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, Crete, May/June 1941, GRUMMAN MARTLET Mk. III, 805 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, Maaten Bagush, Egypt, April 1942  
    The following profiles are offered by Scott Fraser, owner of Tally Ho! decals Martlet III (F4F-3A), #3876, 805 Squadron, Dekheila, August 1941
            Last Modified: 23-2-2001


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