This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, centred on D-Day, June 6, the date of Allied landings in 1944. Two Fleet Air Arm Units from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose proudly wear “Normandy” as one of their battle honours.
Both 849 and 854 Naval Air Squadrons, from todays airborne surveillance and control family who fly the Sea King Mk 7, have taken time to remember their illustrious forbearers.
The landings were part of the largest seaborne invasion ever launched and heralded the end of the Second World War in Europe. Around 150,000 Royal Marines and allied soldiers were transported by ships, landing craft and sea boats, with 23,400 arriving by air.
The FAA, RAF and allied air forces provided 11,000 aircraft. Prior to, and after D Day, several Royal Navy FAA Grumman Avenger squadrons operated with Coastal Command from Perranporth carrying out what were described as “channel stop” operations, designed to prevent enemy shipping from entering the English Channel.
They also escorted assault convoys and participated night attacks on E boats and German Minesweepers that could interfere with the “Overlord” landings.
849 and 850 Squadrons operated from Perranporth and over a three month period from May 1944 both carried out long patrols in the Channel lasting up to four or five hours at a time.
Intensive anti-submarine searches were flown by day and anti-shipping patrols by night. The 850 NAS Sqn based in Cornwall attacked and sunk a large German vessel off the coast of Guernsey.
After D Day their role was complete and by August both 849 and 854 NAS were heading to the Far East in the War against Japan as part of the British Pacific Fleet embarked on the aircraft carriers HMS Activity and HMS Victorious.
‘We are all immensely proud of our heritage and the hard-won battle honours with which our Squadrons have been honoured”, said Commander Andrew Rose, Sea King Force Commander at RNAS Culdrose.
“70 years on from D-Day we remember those who gave their all in defence of the nation and their memory lives on in today’s FAA Squadrons.”