On 12th February 1942, six Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bombers from 825 Naval Air Squadron, set off from RAF Manston on what they knew to be a one-way trip. Lt Cdr Esmonde rallied his men and led from the front, showing a great display of Naval core values. Esmonde flew as part of the first wave and was shot down before the torpedo could be dropped. The other two ditched after successfully releasing their payloads. The three remaining aircraft were seen to have disappeared into a cloud of smoke. All but five of the eighteen personnel sadly perished during the mission. The late Lt Cdr Esmonde was awarded the Victoria Cross on behalf of all those who took part in this brave and courageous act. They well and truly lived up to the 825 motto, “Nihil Obstat – Nothing Stops Us.”
Personnel currently serving on 825 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton visited the Navy Wings Heritage hangar so that they could see the famous “Stringbag” aircraft and hear more about its capabilities and how it was used during the Channel Dash. It provided great insight into what previous generations of 825 aviators operated in the Second World War.
Following the visit a coach trip of the 30 serving personnel of 825 NAS marched to the location of the plaque and attended a very fitting service provided by stand-in chaplain, Lt Max Randles RN, concluding with a moving and inspiring address by Lt Cdr Oliver Brooksbank RN. The plaque now sits in good company alongside many others as part of the Fleet Air Arm memorial at The National Memorial Arboretum a fitting memorial to all those on 825 NAS who have given their lives in the service of their Country.