The squadron formed at
RNAS Worthy Down in October 1939 from the remnants of 811 and 822
NAS surviving the sinking of HMS Courageous in September 1939, and
disbanded in November 1939.
The same CO, Lt-Cdr S
Borrett, RN reformed the squadron later that month with 9 Swordfish,
and in April 1940 the squadron was attached to RAF Coastal Command
at Bircham Newton.
In May 1940 the squadron
provided support to the Dunkirk evacuation.
In June 1940 the
squadron embarked on HMS Illustrious and sailed for the
Mediterranean in August, attacking and minelaying Benghazi, Rhodes
In November 1940 the
entire squadron took part in the attack on the Italian Fleet at
Taranto. The CO Lt-Cdr K. Williamson RN and crew were lost and taken
POW during the operation.
In December 1940 two
Italian convoy ships were sunk off Sicily, but HMS Illustrious was
severely damaged in a dive bombing attack in January 1941 but 5 of
the squadron aircraft escaped to Malta, combined with the remnants
of 819 and 821 NAS to re-form as a new 815 NAS under the same CO.
In January 1941 the
squadron operated from Crete carrying out attacks on shipping and
minelaying, and was evacuated in April to Dekheila, thence Cyprus
for attacks on Vichy French shipping off Syria, succeeding in
damaging one destroyer and sinking another destroyer.
In August 1941 the
squadron re-equipped with 12 Albacores and 2 Swordfish with ASV
radar to support the 8th Army in the Western Desert, attacking
German-held aerodromes and armoured formations, and the Allied
advance into Libya in 1942.
On 2 June 1942 the
U-boat U-652 was sunk, shared with RAF 203 squadron Blenheim
V4707/L, then in March 1943 a special Albacore flight was formed to
provide Fleet bombardment spotting.
The squadron was
disbanded in July 1943 at Mersa Matruh but reformed at RNAS
Lee-on-Solent in October 1943 as a Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance
squadron with 12 Barracuda IIs.
During 1943 the squadron
joined the 52nd Naval TBR Wing, embarking on HMS Begum in February
1944 for India where it joined 12th Naval TBR Wing for operations
with the Eastern Fleet in HMS Indomitable in July 1944. In August
1944 it took part in an attack on the Sumatran port of Emmahaven,
then in succeeding months on Sigli and the Nicobar islands.
In November, the
squadron returned to the UK in HMS Activity without its aircraft
after a decision to replace Barracuda squadrons by Avengers in the
In December 1944 the
squadron re-equipped with 12 Barracuda IIs at Machrihanish for
anti-submarine activities, replacing with Barracuda IIIs from
January 1945, and adding Wildcat from 825 NAS in April, the
following month being spent on deck landing training in HMS
subsequently sailed for the Far East in HMS Smiter, but saw no
action before VJ-Day, and returned in September 1945 in HMS Fencer.
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