Swordfish flies for documentary film on Battle of the Atlantic
One of the Navy’s two vintage Swordfish took to the skies of Somerset as part of preparations for 70th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of the Atlantic. A BBC film crew joined the magnificent biplane to record footage for a documentary on the pivotal battle, whose victory will be marked by a weekend of major events in Liverpool next spring.
Not too high above the sodden – and in many cases flooded – pastures and fields of Somerset, this is Swordfish LS326, arguably the jewel of the vintage aircraft of the Royal Navy Historic Flight. All three Services are focusing on one key event to mark as part of 70th anniversary commemorations of World War 2. The RAF marked the Battle of Britain back in 2010; later this year the Army will be paying tribute to Monty and his Eighth Army at Alamein. And for the RN, the focus is on the Battle of the Atlantic – securing the nation’s seaborne lifelines and defeating the U-boats. That battle – described by Churchill as “the dominating factor all through the war” – reached its climax in the spring of 1943.
In May 1943, the Allied powers sank 43 German submarines – 34 of them in the Atlantic – which wiped out a quarter of the enemy’s front-line strength. On May 24, the German Navy’s commander Karl Dönitz recalled his boats. He sent them back to sea later in the year and submarines continued to attack Britain’s supply lines until May 1945, but never again did they pose the threat that they had earlier in the war. Liverpool – home in the war to Western Approaches from where the struggle against the U-boat was directed – will be the focal point of 70th anniversary commemorations over the weekend of May 24-27 2013, including a service of thanksgiving. And as part of those events, the BBC is already gathering material for a documentary on the battle – not least footage of a Swordfish in flight, hence this particular run out for the venerable biplane.
LS326 is a veteran of the titanic Atlantic struggle. Built in 1943 she served with 836 Naval Air Squadron, flying off the ‘merchant aircraft carrier’ Rapana – a former oil tanker converted into a makeshift carrier protecting convoys on the North Atlantic run. After serving in a training role, this Swordfish became a display aircraft and also appeared in the film Sink the Bismarck! She’s been part of the Historic Flight for more than half a century and is currently painted in her Battle of the Atlantic livery.
To join the Fly Navy Heritage Trust or make a donation to keep our Swordfish flying in memory of all those who flew in the Battle of the Atlantic please contact the Fly Navy Heritage Trust, RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester. BA22 8HT Tel. 01935 842005
Click on the link below to find out about BOA70 events in Liverpool in May 2013.