On the 12th of February1941, six Swordfish set off from RAF Manston to attack Kriegsmarine battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen as they dashed up the English Channel heading away from Brest to safer ports to the north.
The CO of RAF Manston, not expecting them to return, saluted each aircraft as it took off.
The powerful German squadron was escorted by numerous destroyers and E boats and squadrons of fighter aircraft.
Several RAF fighter squadrons were supposed to engage the German fighters and provide protection for the Swordfish, but only one made the rendezvous with the Swordfish. They were hopelessly outnumbered by German fighters and, fighting for their survival, were unable to support.
The Swordfish, now in two flights of three, pressed home their attacks, but were cut to ribbons by a combination of enemy fighters and the massed guns of the ships they were attacking and their escort screen. All six were shot down and only five of the eighteen crewmen survived.
Flight leader Lt Commander Eugene Esmonde, who had received a DSO for his part in the attack on the Bismarck, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
The German commander, Vice Admiral Otto Ciliax described the courage of the Swordfish crews. “…the mothball attack of a handful of ancient planes, piloted by men whose bravery surpasses any other action by either side that day”.
The Fairey Swordfish achieved legendary status in WWII. The bravery and sense of duty of their crews, in the doomed action that was to become known as The Channel Dash, have become part of the legend.
This limited edition print by Duncan Robertson is signed by veterans who took part in that ill-fated mission and shows one of the six Swordfish that was lost on that fateful day.
This is your opportunity to own a piece of history that will look superb in any home.
Supplied with a certificate of authenticity.
The prints are all signed by
Don Bunce (825 Sqn Channel Dash survivor)
Edgar Lee (825 Sqn Channel Dash survivor)
Pat Kingsmill (825 Sqn Channel Dash survivor).
Brian Kingcome (Spitfire Pilot – C.O. 72 Sqn)
Tom Gleave (C.O. RAF Manston)
Fairey Swordfish LS326 and W5856 are both members of the Navy Wings Heritage Flight and veterans of active service in WWII
Approx 71cm x 54cm
N.B. This item is supplied as a print. The image where it is depicted with a frame is for illustrative purposes only.