Fleet Air Arm 807 Squadron Commanders Board
Listed today is the final board from my personal collection, which is being offered for re-homing purely because we don't have room to display it appropriately at the Oldnautibits HQ. We purchased this board at the same time as the 807 and 810 Squadron Honours Board which we have also listed on the site today. It is very much hoped the two items, that are irretrievably intertwined, will remain together and to encourage such a sale we are offering a 10% discount on our list price to a single customer who purchases both 807 related items. Ideally that customer will be a Museum or public institution and the boards will be exhibited to be enjoyed by the general public rather than be locked away in a private collection as now. This Board features the Squadron badge, in transfer form, and an image of out turned swords in a 360 degree ark, which makes every sense when you consider the Squadron motto 'Quoquo Versus Ferituri' which translates to mean 'Ready to strike in all directions'. Below that, picked out in gold lettering, is a list of 807 Squadron Commanders commencing with Lt Commander J.Shalto Douglas D.S.O, R.N. who was CO from 1940-1942 with the final incumbent listed as Lt Commander G.A. Rowan Thomson, R.N. who was serving from 1961-1962. 807 Naval Air Squadron was finally disbanded aboard Centaur in Portsmouth on 17 May 1962 so Rowan Thomson was the last of a long line of illustrious Commanders of this illustrious Naval Squadron. First on the list is Lieutenant-Commander James Sholto Douglas was commanding 807 Squadron consisting 12 Fulmars when HMS Ark Royal joined the battle to find and sink 'The Bismark'; he was subsequently awarded the DSO. He was a descendant of the famous 'Douglas' military family of Morton Castle. The next CO was equally illustrious Lt (and later Commodore) Fraser Fraser-Harris, a Naval aviator extraordinaire. He was involved in the hunt for German cruiser Konigsberg. With skilled navigation in poor conditions Fraser-Harris's aircrewman, Leading Torpedo Air Gunner George Scott Russell, was spot on as they dived at an angle of 60 degrees from 8,000 ft through a thin layer of cloud with the sun behind them. Their 500 lb bomb hit the cruiser's bows, making a large flaming hole while others also struck the ship, which they saw sinking as the Skuas departed through the smoke. They had achieved complete surprise, with one bullet hole in a wing being the only damage sustained during what was the first sinking of a major warship by aerial bombing. Fraser-Harris was mentioned in dispatches and subsequently awarded the DSC for his daring and resource in the conduct of hazardous and successful operations. He survived the War and subsequently served with the Royal Canadian Navy. Room does not allow a full summary of the service careers of all from this list of Naval Aviators but the above taster gives an idea of the sort of men who commanded this illustrious Fleet Air Arm Squadron. Formed at Worthy Down in September 1940 and which went on to win Battle Honours for the Atlantic 1940, Malta Convoys 1941 - 42, North Africa 1942 - 43, Sicily 1943, Salerno 1943, South France 1944, Aegean 1944, Burma 1945, Malaya 1945 and finally Korea 1950 -53. Interestingly chalked on the back of this board are the names and dates of K.A.Leppard R.N. and Lt Commander W.A.Tofts, A.F.C R.N. ; these clearly remain from the time when instructions were issued to an unknown hand, to update the latest Commanders back in the 1950's and 60's. In addition painted on the back is 'Centaur' 1290 13.06.62'. 807 Naval Air Squadron was disbanded aboard HMS Centaur in Portsmouth on 17th May 1962, so it would appear, as with our relating Honours Board, the Squadron Commanders Board remained with the carrier after their departure and was recovered when 'Centaur' was broken up at Cairnryan, Scotland, in September 1972. This board measures 38" x 26" (96 cm x 55 cm) and has substantial brass locating points on the back for wall hanging. I have tried, but so far failed, to find pictures these boards in situ on HMS Centaur. If any visitors to the site should have photographs in their collection showing them on display we would love to hear from you! Like our Honours Boards this is a one of chance to secure a unique set of items relating to some of the most important aspects of Fleet Air Arm and Royal Navy history.