The Lee-on-Solent Fleet Air Arm Memorial

Lee

Lee-on-Solent was selected as the site for the Fleet Air Arm Memorial as it was the location of the large Naval Air Station HMS Daedelus. It is one of the lesser known Memorials in the UK, but remembers 1,925 men of the Fleet Air Arm who have no known grave, most of them having been lost at sea.

The Fleet Air Arm served in almost every theatre between 1939 and 1945, such was the growing importance of sea-based airpower. Men and aircraft were lost in air combat, accidents, and also when aircraft carriers were sunk – the Royal Navy lost seven in the Second World War.

The Fleet Air Arm carried out many daring operations in the Second World War, including the hugely succesful strike on the Italian fleet at Taranto in 1940, the sinking of the Bismarck in 1941, and operations against the battleships Scharnhorst, Gneiseau and Prinz Eugen during their channel dash in February 1942.

20 Portsmouth men are remembered on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial:

The Aircraft Carrier HMS Glorious was sunk on 9 June 1940. Onboard were Air Mechanic 1st Class Harry Aldington (28, North End), Warrant Air Mechanic Leslie Ayres (34, Southsea) and Air Mechanic 2nd Class William Nevitt (20, North End). She had recovered RAF aircraft from Norway and was in the process of returning to England when she and her Destroyer escorts were intercepted and sunk by the German Battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.

Air Mechanic 1st Class Douglas London (21, Copnor) died on 27 November 1940. During this time his ship, HMS Hermes, was on station in the South Atlantic defending convoys and intercepting German warships.

Petty Officer (Airman) Ronald Hurford (28, Stamshaw) died on 1 January 1941 when HMS Formidable was in the process of transferring from the South Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

From HMS Goshawk Air Mechanic 2nd Class George Harris (21, Milton), Air Fitter James Davitt (19, Portsea), Chief Petty Officer (Airman) Alfred Dicks (36, Portsmouth) and Air Mechanic 2nd Class Stanley Newnham (29) were all killed on 17 January 1941. HMS Goshawk was a Naval Air Station in Trinidad.

Sub-Lieutenant Francis Gallichan (25, Southsea) was killed on 30 July 1941. His ship, HMS Furious, was operating in support of Arctic Convoys to Russia, Furious launched an air attack on Petsamo. 11 Fairy Swordfish Biplanes were lost.

Air Mechanic 1st Class Leonard Sanger (22, Copnor) died when HMS Audacity was sunk on 22 December 1941. Audacity was a captured German Mechant ship, converted into the Navy’s first Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier. Operating in defence of an Atlantic Convoy, she was spotted by Kondor aircraft and subsequently torpedoed by U571.

Leading Photographer Sydney Horne (23, Cosham) of HMS Sparrowhawk died on 1 April 1942. HMS Sparrowhawk was a Naval Air Station in the Orkneys. It hosted a number of different aircraft, including Swordfish, Rocs and Avengers.

Leading Airman John Bristow (20, Cosham) was a crew member of HMS Avenger when he died on 4 May 1942, while she was in transit from the US to England, having been acquired as part of the Lend-Lease agreement.

HMS Dasher sank on 27 March 1943. Amon those killed were Air Mechanic 1st Class William Cluett (21, Portsmouth), Chief Petty Officer (Air) George Chaplin (35, Fratton) and Petty Officer (Airman) Albert Young (44, Cosham). Whilst at anchor in the Clyde a fire onboard caused her to explode. An inquiry found that the fire was probably caused by a dropped cigarette.

Sub-Lieutenant Edward Clark (23, Hilsea) was serving in 838 Naval Air Squadron when he was killed on 1 May 1944.

Sub-Lieutenant (Air) Leslie Smith (21, Milton) was onboard HMS Illustrious when he was killed on 11 June 1944. During June 1944 Illustrious was operating in support of US Landings in the Mariana Islands, by launching diversionary air raids on Sabang.

Lieutenant (Air) George Cornish (24 Southsea) of HMS Puncher was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 8 June 1945 ‘for gallantry, determination and devotion to duty in carrying out a successful air operation in the face of heavy opposition’, for action on 26 March 1945. In poor weather Puncher launched air attacks on German shipping in Alesund, Norway. Cornishas killed during the attack.

Lieutenant Kenneth Lorimer (22, Southsea) died on 20 March 1947. He was serving at HMS Ferrett, a shore establishment in Derry, Northern Ireland.

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23 Comments

Filed under Navy, portsmouth heroes, Uncategorized, World War Two

23 responses to “The Lee-on-Solent Fleet Air Arm Memorial

  1. Clare Sage

    My Great Uncle, Donald Daniells was in the Fleet Air Arm. He was leading air mechanic, he is 86 now and we were wondering if you had any records of men he worked with, he remembers a few people.

    Thank you.

  2. James Daly

    Hi Clare, thank you for your comment. In terms of men who died during the war, their names are on the Commonwealth War Graves War Commission’s online roll of honour. And if you have a look at Geoff’s WW2 search engine – there is a link to the right of my site – you can search specifically for FAA men.

    In terms of men who survived the war, their service records are still held by the Navy and are only available to next of kin. Your great-uncle could apply for his if he doesn’t already have them.

    The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton might also be worth a look, I havent been there myself but its website looks interesting.

    James

  3. Also try the MOD for service records.

  4. Karen McCue

    Hello.
    My uncle was 21 when he was killed on the HMS Avenger. His name was Robert McKechnie. Only 12 survived.

    • Pam Kirton

      Hi Karen, My uncle was also killed on HMS Avenger alongside your uncle Robert. His name was Edward Hiscock. Yesterday (15th) I visited the Memorial at Lee on Solent the first time ever as I only found out about his past and the sinking of the Avenger earlier this year.

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  8. Antony Wiles

    Hello,
    Just wondering if you’ve done any research on Sub-LT Edward Clark. He was killed on the same mission as my Great Uncle, flying Swordfish out of RAF Harrowbeer in Devon with 838 NAS. If you’re interested, drop me an email. A really sad story where a group of brave airmen lost their lives.

  9. Steven

    Hello,

    My Uncle, Anthony Mardel Ferreira, was an observer/navigator in one of the Swordfish aircraft which attacked the Italian fleet at Taranto on 11 November 1940. Does anyone else out there have any connection with this famous WW2 raid?

  10. Chris Maloney

    Hi,
    My uncle was Patrick Warren, and was a pilot in the FAA 827th Squadron. He flew a Fairery Barracuda and was aboard the HMS Colossus (dep Glasgow Jan 1945). He died in a mid-air collision in Dekheila, Alexandria, Egypt (May 1945, age 19) along with 5 other of the 827th.

    I found some interviews online at the Imperial War Museum website I found very interesting and helpful.

    Chris Maloney

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