Unit History: 815 Squadron
815 Squadron formed at RNAS Worthy Down in October 1939, equipped with Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers. It led a major airborne torpedo strike against the Italian fleet at Taranto Harbour in 1940 and repeated the success at Matapan in 1941.
It reformed in 1947 from 744 Squadron and operated in the anti-submarine role. The Squadron’s last fixed wing aircraft was the Gannet, disbanding at Culdrose in mid Jul 1958.
815 Squadron reformed at RNAS Eglinton with 12 Whirlwind HAS.7 in Sep 1958 and after trouble with the HAS.7 engines, was moved to Portland, eventually disbanding in Aug 1959 to become 737 Squadron. Reformed 8 Sep 1959 at Culdrose with Whirlwind HAS.7 as ASW unit. After a Far East tour on HMS Albion (R07), it disbanded again in Dec 1960.
On 4 Jul 1961, the Squadron recommissioned at RNAS Culdrose as the first front line unit to equip with Wessex HAS.1s (after the success of 700(H) Squadron) and after initialy difficulties with engines, participated in operations in East Africa and the Indonesian coast. Embarked in HMS Ark Royal (R09) from Nov 1961 and during 1964 on HMS Centaur (R06), it provided support against disturbances in Aden (with 45 Royal Marine Commando from May 1964 in the Radfan) and in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). After a final deployment on HMS Ark Royal, the unit disbanded at Culdrose in Oct 1966.
A plan to reform the unit with Sea Kings was abandoned in favour of 826 Squadron and it was almost 15 years before 815 Squadron re-commissioned at RNAS Yeovilton in Jan 1981 with the Lynx HAS.2, taking on the role as the headquarters and support Squadron for small ships’ Lynx Flights from 702 Squadron.
It moved to Portland in Jul 1982 and during the 1980s was involved in the South Atlantic, the Armilla Patrol and relief operations off Lebanon, Aden and the Carribean. As the Wasp was being phased out service, some of the unit’s Lynxes were transferred to 829 Squadron, to share the load in Sep 1986 and again in Apr 1988. Support for Lynx Flights was conducted jointly with 829 Squadron but when the two units eventually amalgamated to save cost, 815 Squadron became the largest helicopter squadron in the World on 27 Mar 1993.
In the lead up to the absorption of 700(L) Squadron in Jul 1992, the Lynx HAS.3 had been introduced into service. This was followed in 1995 by the Lynx HMA.8 and after an absence of nearly 17 years, the unit moved back to RNAS Yeovilton, with the closure of Portland in Mar 1999.