Operational History and Background

Fairey Swordfish Mk.I K5959, 823 Sqn FAA, HMS Glorious, 1937-38

On the outbreak of war, this torpedo spotter reconnaissance Swordfish squadron embarked from Dekheila, Egypt to HMS Glorious in search of enemy shipping in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

The ship returned to the Mediterranean in January 1940, the squadron operating from Hal Far, Malta until March 1940 when the ship was recalled for the defence of Norway. HMS Glorious was sunk by the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst on 8 June 1940, and half of the squadron lost. The remnants of the squadron remaining at Hatston.

On 21 June 1940, 823 and 821 squadrons unsuccessfully attacked Scharnhorst, and on 24 July 1940 attacked enemy destroyers and shipping off Norway, and finally disbanded in December 1940 at Hatston.

In November 1941 the squadron reformed at Crail as torpedo bomber reconnaissance Swordfish squadron, subsequently embarking on HMS Furious in August 1942 with 9 Albacores for convoy duties.
In September 1942 the squadron was attached to RAF 16 Group Coastal Command at Manston and Tangmere for anti-submarine patrols in the English Channel.

In June 1943 the squadron was re-equipped with Barracuda IIs at Lee-on-Solent, intended for embarking on HMS Indefatigable with 45th Naval TBR Wing, however the squadron embarked on HMS Atheling in February 1944 and joined the 11th TBR Wing in southern India but disbanded in July 1944 at Katukurunda to enlarge 822 squadron.

Battle Honours
Norway 1940

Commanding Officers and Squadron Personnel

  • L/C RD Watkins, RN May 1939-May 1940
  • L/C CJT Stephens, RN May 1940-July 1940
  • L/C DH Elles, RN July 1940-Nov 1941
  • L/C(A) AJD Harding, DSC, RN Nov 1941-Aug 1942
  • L/C JW Collett, RN Aug 1941-Nov 1942
  • Lt RW Spackman, RN Nov 1942-March 1943
  • L/C G Douglas, RNR, March 1943-December 1943
  • L/C(A) LC Watson, DSC, RNVR Dec 1943-July 1944




    • Swordfish I Nov 1936-April 1942
    • Albacore I April 1942-May 1943
    • Barracuda II June 1943-July 1944
    Ships and Squadron bases
    To be listed
    The Squadron Today
    Link to current Fleet Air Arm 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. 
    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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