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.