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Item OC419 Fleet Air Arm 810 Squadron Battle Honours Board
On offer is a unique and historic item from my own personal collection and is only being offered for sale as we simply do not have room to display it and the other honours boards we are currently offering for sale. This collection is most certainly of both national and historic interest and it is very much hoped an appropriate museum will step forward and take on custody as a testament to all those who served with one of the most iconic FAA Squadrons of WWII. The board displays the Squadron badge and bellow the motto in relief the motto 'Ut Fulmina De Caelo' which translated means 'Like a thunderbolt from heaven'. Then follows Battle Honours awarded for actions in Norway 1940, Mediterranean 1940-1, Spartivento 1940, Atlantic 1941, 'Bismarck' 1941 (interestingly carved from wood not metal as the other awards),Diego Suarez 1942, Salerno 1943 and Korea 1951-3.
810 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm carrier based unit formed on 3 April 1933 and was first assigned to the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous in May '33 and formed part of the Home Fleet. The Abyssinian crisis resulted in the squadron to be transferred to the Med from August 1935 to February 1936. It was then upgraded to use Blackburn Sharks in 1937 and the famous Fairy Swordfish in 1938. 810 was next deployed on the HMS Ark Royal and won her first Battle Honour for actions over Norway, after the German invasion in April 1940, soon followed in the same year by the actions in the Mediterranean and in November 1940 took part in the Battle of Cape Spartivento. 'The Ark' was then ordered into the Atlantic, thus adding a further Honour and in May 1941 began to search for the German battleship 'Bismarck', and the squadron was involved in the attack which crippled her. This directly led to her subsequent sinking and thus achieving her most prestigious award for 'Bismark', flying in atrocious weather conditions in the ever faithful 'Stringbag' aircraft. The Squadron then returned to the Med and operated against enemy positions on Sardinia.
They left 'The Ark' in September 1941, shortly before she was sunk in November and was reassigned to HMS Illustrious for operations in the Indian Ocean. They were then involved in the Battle of Madagascar in May, bombing shipping and land targets at Diego Suarez, followed by a period in the Mediterranean to operate against enemy positions on Sardinia. The squadron was reassigned in March 1942 to HMS Illustrious for operations in the Indian Ocean and were then involved in the Battle of Madagascar in May, bombing shipping and land targets at Diego Suarez.
Re-equipped with Fairy Barracuda 810 embarked aboard HMS Illustrious and operated in support of the Salerno landings in 1943. 810 Squadron was then re-grouped as part of the 21st Naval Torpedo Bomber Reconnaissance Wing in October 1943, and sailed in November to join the Eastern Fleet. They carried out attacks on docks and oil tanks at Sabang in Operation Cockpit in April 1944, and followed this in June with raids on the Andaman Islands. The squadron then disbanded in August 1945 but reformed and took part in the Korean War 1950-53, as well as the Suez Crisis. Disbanded again and reformed 810 embarked finally on her last carrier based deployment on 'HMS Centaur' serving in the Persian Gulf, The Far East and Australia. 810 Squadron, after an illustrious career was finally decommissioned for the final time in July 2001.
Interestingly written in the back of the Honours Board 'Centaur 810 Sqd 31656 and dated 27.03.61'. We believe this Honours Board was last displayed on 'HMS Centaur' during 810's deployment and was left in situ when the Squadron departed and was fortunately recovered when she was finally broken up in 1972. An interesting associated fact is HMS Centaur was used in April 1959, during the making of the classic film' Sink the Bismarck! and stood in for both the Royal Navy carriers 'Victorious' and 'Ark Royal'. Our board is large at 145" x 37" (57 cm x 37 cm) and is very heavy. Certainly a one off and a never to be repeated piece of Royal Naval aviation history.