Unsurpassed Gallantry We Must Never Forget

Navy Wings Ambassador, Helen Esmonde, the niece of Channel Dash Hero, Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde VC DSO pays tribute to her uncle.

“I was very privileged to be invited to fly in the Swordfish a few years ago in honour of my Uncle, Eugene Esmonde. This was an extraordinary experience,” said Helen

“My uncle led an attack on three of Hitler’s most formidable battleships as they broke cover from Brest making a dash up the Channel for Germany. Eugene commanded a squadron of six Swordfish and although he was an experienced Swordfish pilot, they faced overwhelming odds. Their incredible gallantry, unflinching acceptance of the fight and determination to deliver their attacks, even though they had been hit and were ablaze, was in the finest tradition of the Fleet Air Arm.”

“Flying in the Swordfish really enabled me to imagine what it must have been like for those 18 young aviators. It was like touching history. We flew around clouds, banked, and turned, and just seemed to hang in the air at times. No wonder my uncle found the Swordfish such a sturdy, dependable and trusty friend.”

Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his absolutely heroic action.

In 2022, the 80th Anniversary of the Channel Dash will be marked with a memorial service and flypast at Manston and a symphony to the Swordfish written by Navy Wings Ambassador, Giles Martin.            

 No single action in British Naval history sums up the Navy Wings aim to Inspire and Remember more significantly or relates more directly to the importance of keeping the Swordfish flying today – as a living memorial to all those who have given their lives in the service of naval aviation.