On this day 30 July 1941
On this day 30 July 1941 Raids on Petsamo, Finland and Kirkenes, Norway
This unsuccessful raid from the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious and Furious was intended to inflict damage on merchant vessels owned by Germany and Finland, a political gesture to show support for Britain’s new ally, the Soviet Union which had entered the war following Hitler’s invasion of its territory in June 1941.
Furious attacked ships in the harbour of Petsamo, Liinahamari, launching nine Fairey Albacores from 817 Squadron, nine Fairey Swordfish of 812 Squadron and six bomb-armed Fairey Fulmars from 800 Squadron. In the end, the harbour was almost entirely empty and the raiders claimed sinking only one small steamer and the destruction of several jetties, amid heavy anti-aircraft fire. One Albacore and one Fulmar were lost due to enemy action and one more Fulmar was lost due to engine failure prior to the attack.
The raid on Kirkenes was a disaster. The Luftwaffe had been alerted and had their Bf 109 and Bf 110 fighters in the air and waiting. Victorious launched two sub flights consisting of a total of 12 Albacores from 827 Squadron, eight Albacores from 828 Squadron, and nine Fulmars from 809 Squadron. The Fulmars were unable to rendezvous with the Albacore squadrons, who were then left without fighter protection. The Albacores had to attack by flying over the mountains and the fjord rather than attacking from the sea. There were only four cargo vessels within the harbour. The aircraft released their torpedoes quickly to get away from anti-aircraft fire, sinking one 2,000 tons vessel and setting another on fire and causing minor damage ashore. One Bf 109, two Bf 110s and one Ju 87 were claimed shot down for the loss of 11 Albacores and two Fulmars, with a further eight Albacores damaged.