810 Squadron travels to RNAS Macrihanish, Mull of Kintyre to embark on the Aircraft Carrier HMS Illustrious        

In March 1942 (not 1941 as on website) the squadron embarked on HMS Illustrious to take part in the May operations on Madagascar, when the squadron bombed shipping and other targets at Diego Suarez.              

HMS Illustrious, with escort group and convoy, travel to West Africa.

 810 Squadron provide  anti-submarine and surface patrols.

Aircraft Carrier HMS Illustrious    

HMS Illustrious at full speed with aircraft angled

HMS Illustrious with Swordfish aboard

HMS Illustrious  built by Vickers Armstrong and launched  25/05/40 

The Ark Royal was very much a prototype, combining speed with capacity and new standards of protection. Though late coming, she had hardly been launched when a new 'Illustrious' class of four aircraft-carriers was laid down in 1937 to respond to the already increasing likelihood of war. Operational experience was, therefore, not a part of the later concept, which took the scale of the Ark Royals belt and horizontal protection, and added a 114mm (4.5-in) hangar well. Thus the whole of the vulnerable aircraft accommodation became an armoured box, but so much weight high in the ship limited the protection to only one hangar and, though HMS Illustrious, HMS Victorious and HMS Formidable (all launched in 1939) were not significantly smaller than the Ark Royal, they carried far fewer aircraft.

HMS Illustrious  Wardroom by an unknown artist

                                  Left photograph shows Pilots with C.O. Lt Everett.

        Right photograph shows the Observers. 

Pilots normally flew the same aircraft on a shift system. The roster was prepared daily by the C.O. and each shift probably corresponded to the Naval Watches. The Rosters were also dependant on whether the operations were day or night.

A spot of bother with Swordfish on HMS Illustrious

Swordfish Cockpit


Accident record Information (Part One)

 Codes: X=can be repaired locally. S=made serviceable

The Accident record Information card fails to include one of the "accidents" recorded in the History of the FAA aircraft

The date is also incorrect since GMA did not join Illustrious until March 1942.

MJA notes: GMA cannot remember this accident. W5909 was definitely the aircraft that GMA flew at this time but on 15 Feb. 1942 he was at 
Lee-on-Solent (Air testing on engine). If this was 15 March he was flying Swordfish V.4447 (He flew W5909 on 10 March & then on 18 March).
If there had been a serious accident it is unlikely that the aircraft would have been airworthy by the 18th. Therefore probably a false report

GMA  comments:

 We had a terrible batman who couldn't land anything !

GMA  comments:

It may be pertinent to note that Illustrious was bound for Madagascar , though I doubt that we on board knew this at the time. I was transferred to a hospital ship in Freetown, suffering from pneumonia.

I canít think of anything else of note, but would like to comment on the reference to the loss of my aircraft in a Hangar Fire. I surmise that there may be something odd here. While I was laid low (in the Admiralís day cabin, no less, for isolation, I suppose) there was a fatal accident on deck, when one of the guns fired into the turret of the other gun in a practice shoot Apparently a fire ensued. When I enquired about the goings-on, the Doctor told me that the accident had been blamed on faulty welding of the stops in the rotating turret. Repairs had been made at a US Navy dockyard.

MJA notes: The last record of GMA flying was on the 27 March so he was presumably "laid low" soon after this especially if Swordfish W5909
was destroyed on 2 April. GMA must have been laid up for the whole of April before transfer to hospital ship.

GMA transferred to a hospital ship anchored in Freetown Harbour, Sierra Leone, for treatment for pneumonia.

GMA travels by troopship to Liverpool, convalescing en route with medication labelled "Guinness"

Travel by Rail to Plymouth Naval Hospital.

Released for Leave at home with parents at Ilfracombe, Devon. The rail journey from Plymouth to Ilfracombe was very slow with at least two changes, arriving late at night. GMA didn't know his father's office telephone number so had to send a telegram. (No home telephone).

Squadron Linebook

Most operational squadrons had a Line Book (as in "shooting a line") which would be written or collated by a 
member of the squadron. The contents varied enormously from the excellent to the atrocious. MJA has seen the Line 
Book for 810 squadron at the Fleet Air Arm Museum's research department. Unfortunately this squadron's Line Book is 
in the latter category! The FAA personnel photograph (above) is the frontispiece, but only three airmen are named! 
There was  very little about the "off duty" activities of the squadron.

HMS Illustrious memorabilia from FAA Museum (October 2010 photograph)