The dangers of landing on an aircraft carrier: Part II

A Fairey Swordfish comes to grief on HMS Ark Royal in the 1930s or early 1940s PPP-150219-154909001
A Fairey Swordfish comes to grief on HMS Ark Royal in the 1930s or early 1940s PPP-150219-154909001
Passchendaele. Picture: Imperial War Museum

Pompey Pals will lay wreath at Guildhall Square for Passchendaele dead

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Hard on the heels of one prang on one HMS Ark Royal, along comes another on another.

Earlier this week I featured photographs of a Scimitar coming a cropper as it came in to land on the flight deck of the Ark Royal which immediately preceded the last one. That accident happened in the 1950s.

A Fairey Swordfish comes to grief on HMS Ark Royal in the 1930s or early 1940s PPP-150219-154920001

A Fairey Swordfish comes to grief on HMS Ark Royal in the 1930s or early 1940s PPP-150219-154920001

These dramatic pictures were taken on the Ark which was sunk in the Second World War, the carrier which came before the one involved in the Scimitar accident.

Now, I’m no expert on planes, but I think the unfortunate aircraft featured here is a Fairey Swordfish, a torpedo bomber biplane used by the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War.

The photos, sent in response to that first feature, come from David England.

He says: ‘They are from my family collection, obtained by my Royal Marine father; the Ark being his ship, until he had to leave it, with many others in 1941.’

A Fairey Swordfish comes to grief on HMS Ark Royal in the 1930s or early 1940s PPP-150219-154858001

A Fairey Swordfish comes to grief on HMS Ark Royal in the 1930s or early 1940s PPP-150219-154858001

He had to leave because on November 13, 1941, the Ark was hit amidships by a torpedo fired from a German U-boat off Gibraltar.

One sailor was killed, but the ship did not sink until the following day which allowed 1,487 officers and crew to be rescued and taken ashore at Gibraltar.

However, David’s father did not live much longer.

On December 19, 1941, he was lost while serving in the destroyer HMS Stanley when she was torpedoed in the Atlantic, west of Portugal.

She was escorting Convoy HG 76, returning home with HMS Audacity, Blankney and Stork.

David adds: ‘Being seven at the time I cannot offer any more supporting information about the incident on Ark Royal.’

That Ark had been designed in 1934 and built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead. She was completed in November 1938.

She was the first ship on which the hangars and flight deck were an integral part of the hull instead of an add-on or part of the superstructure.

She served in some of the most active naval theatres of the Second World War. She was involved in the first aerial and U-boat kills of the war, operations off Norway and the search for the Bismarck.