On this day 21 November 1942
FAA Battle Honour – Biscay
Patrolling forces that took part in a successful action, Ushant to Cape Ortegal from 12W to the coast of France between January 1940 and May 1945.
In company with a number of ships, HMS Victorious left Scapa Flow on 18 November to take part in the North Africa landings (Operation Torch) and, while en route, on 21st November 1942, Fairey Albacore BF597 of 817NAS, was carrying out anti-submarine reconnaissance from HMS Victorious. The aircraft was flying at approximately 1,000 ft when, at 1017 BST, it sighted a fully-surfaced U-Boat on its port bow, proceeding at about 10 knots on an approximate course of 280°. It closed immediately to attack from astern along the U-Boat's course. The U-Boat did not take action until about 20 seconds later, when she dived, her stern finally disappearing when the aircraft was 500 yards astern.
The first depth charge was aimed at the centre of the swirl, and another three were dropped with a spacing of 45 ft along the U-Boat's track from a height of 40-50 ft. Survivors said that the whole of the bridge and part of the conning-tower had been blown away by one depth charge and that two others had exploded on either beam. U-517 was scuttled, surviving crew were rescued by HMS Opportune.
Temp Sub Lt (A) William Ogilvy Findlay RNVR and Temp Sub Lt (A) Thomas Henry Hands RNVR awarded DSC and Acting Leading Airman Edward Francis Hartwell awarded DSM. (London Gazette 26.1.43)
FAA Squadrons: 817 (42)