Cromarty Archive

828 Squadron, at HMS OWL (Fearn)

828 Squadron, at HMS OWL (Fearn)

Date Added: 03 August 2009 Contributor: Rob Dalziel Year: 2009 Picture No: 2444

828 Squadron, at HMS OWL (Fearn) in April 1944. My uncle, Lieutenant Douglas Smith is proudly sitting in the front row. He was killed on 7th June 1944 while on a torpedo training exercise off Tarbet Ness along with 5 other airmen, as discused on photo 622.
Full list of the Squadron(as written on the rear of the photo by my uncle):-
Standing, left to right:-
“Hurric”-Ian Kirton, Bruce Turner, “Joe” Hunt, Tony Bateman, “Sam” Strong, “Walford” Davis, “Copper” Porter, “Dicky” Bird, Mick Williamson, Cyril Price, “Finger” Foulkes, “Lash” Williams, Basil Green, Stan Still, Maurice Taylor, Wing.
Seated, left to right:-
George Wisden, “Oli” Oliver, Huth, “Stripey” Martin, Lt/Cdr Swanton (& Schlumpie), Jack Stokes, Tony Lacayo, "Yours Aye", “Jock” McKean.

I'd love to hear from anyone how knew or was related to any of these men, or can add anything to WWII life at Fearn

Groups: Fearn Airfield


Fantastic picture. We recently bought a cottage on the old base and with the cottage we bought the old mess halls. It's great to see the brave men who were stationed here. Comment left on 28 September 2009 at 21:20 by Scott Buchanan
My Uncle who is now a resident of Duthac House was a air mechanic at HMS Owl 1944 His Name P B Scott. Comment left on 28 September 2010 at 13:36 by Carl Lemkes
Remember it well. Comment left on 01 February 2012 at 15:49 by L. Knowles, Air Mecanic (L)
Some time after leaving Fearn 828 Sqadron was re-equiped with Avenger aircraft. These were old aircraft from the States, but we had great success against the Japs including strikes against Truck and the Japanes homeland. Just before the end of the war we got brand new aircraft but some time after V.J.D we had to dfitch them off Sydney Heads. By this time I was a Leading Air Mechanic, got a taste for Service Life and finished up as a Warrant in 1974. Comment left on 08 February 2012 at 14:51 by L.Knowles Air Mecanic (L)
My father Ronald Oxley was also an air mechanic at HMS Owl from 12th April 1944 to 4th of July 1944. He then moved with 828 Squadron to HMS Landrail on 5th July 1944 to 7th August. He then joined HMS Formidable. Comment left on 17 October 2012 at 21:47 by Valerie Nelson
During WW11 I lived at Tullich farm, owned by my father. I attended HILTON primary school, and can remember being frequently picked up by a service truck and dropped off at school. This saved me a long walk or sometimes my little blue bicycle and I were thrown into the back of the lorry! Memories I have of so many different happenings from that time, even as a young lad.

Two separate plane crashes on the farm land, one just beside the farmhouse and another in a field where the men were working at the harvest.The crash beside the house was a single seat fighter type, possibly Barracuda?? The other was a bigger bomber type of plane, sadly no one survived this crash, whereas the pilot of the plane in the field beside the house calmly stepped out of his plane and was given a cup of tea and scone by my mother in the kitchen !! I remember lying in bed for days with the mumps and being kept awake at all times by the sound of aircraft coming and going from Fearn and Tain drome.

My father also had a butchers shop in Alness and supplied some of the kitchens at various camps. I seem to remember a lot of comings and goings at this time and I think a lot of barter etc went on !! We also had two land girls working on the farm along with some POW`S from local camps.

One memory not associated with the drome was of starting the engine of an old lorry at the farm, getting out of control and crashing through the steading doors. The doctor from Tain was called and he stitched my face up while I was held down on the kitchen table!! All this at the tender age of 8-9 years !!
Comment left on 01 July 2013 at 22:50 by Charles Munro
My Uncle Peter Scott was stationed at HMS Owl in 1944. He was an Air Mechanic. Had some great tales to tell of runs ashore in Tain and Balintore. Comment left on 02 July 2013 at 16:31 by Carl Lemkes
I'm filling in an application for the Arctic star for my late father and I came upon HMS Owl in his service records. His name is Lt James Kerrigan and he was a Fleet Air Arm Navigator with 829 squadron from 1942-1943. I googled HMS Owl and found this site. Comment left on 22 July 2013 at 22:11 by Lesley Cairns
Hi all,

I've contacted almost everyone who has posted on this thread already (except for you, Rob - can't seem to access your email address!), but I wanted to leave a note for anyone else who may want to get in touch.

I'm a researcher for Channel 4's 'The Restoration Man' and we are following the restoration of the control tower on the HMS Owl site. As part of the programme we like to delve into local history. So I was wondering if anyone had any personal connections to the Fearn area, and HMS Owl especially.

Do please drop me a line via email: [email protected]

Look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks,

Comment left on 17 March 2014 at 15:26 by Nick de Taranto
My Uncle Jim Hirst was stationed at HMS Owl and died on 14/07/1945 aged 20 in a plane crash, whilst training. I assume it was in a Barracuda. Have you any more information about the incident? Comment left on 08 November 2014 at 15:15 by BRIAN HIRST
The CO took the wee dog on operations. On land he used to jump at the airscrews when the engines were running but never caught them Lucky dog!!!

I got the Arctic Star and the Russian Star and the Ashokov medal for service on 828 Suadron.
Comment left on 21 November 2014 at 18:02 by LKnowles
I was contacted by Nick and two ladies at Balintore earlier this year re Fearn drome , but have heard no more !! Comment left on 23 November 2014 at 22:15 by Charlie Munro
I have a small photo album from a chap serving at R.N.A.S OWL, unfortunately he has not included his name, it has a nice ww2 guide to station activities with it, here's some bullet points;-
tubby and ray 1946, booms 1945 or 25 fellview ave, woodhouse, whitehaven, jock horn 1945, jock rae 1945, my self and liz 1943, cousin joan, daughter ann ?, brother earnest in paras 1944, taff hughes and dog lulu [petty officer]. hms pathfinder 1944 and torpedo boys, mick murdy 1943, tommy Elliot, lilly featherstone [wren ?]. Does any one recognise anything to put meat on the bone, thanks Colin
Comment left on 19 June 2016 at 18:41 by Colin Hales
We're trying to get some information about Sidney Hunt who was killed 25th November 1944 whilst stationed at HMS Owl. Is the "Joe" Hunt referred to in the picture the same chap?
Saw a book on TV programme 'Restoration Man' referring to 'Hunt' who was killed. Would love to pass on some photos or memories to his sister (my mother in law!)
Comment left on 18 July 2017 at 10:02 by Neil Somers
828 sqn disbanded in sept 43 (then reformed?)
some of the 1943 pilots + Observers appear in 829 sqn Tirpitz raid 3rd April 44
H.H. Richardson was one!
Harrison J.C
Erratt S.A.
Grindrod G.E
Williams L.C. CO Oct to March 44
Comment left on 16 November 2019 by L Taylor
Reading the comments and stories always brings back more memories of FEARN during the war. One day I will put pen to paper and write a proper article about those years. Comment left on 18 December 2019 by Charles Munro
Thomas Stanton [Jordy] signed up for the fleet airarm just prior to the outbreak of the war and was posted to HMS Owl at some point during the war according to his log book - any leads to where I would find out more information would be much appreciated - I no longer have access to his log book - thank you in anticipation - [I recall him talking about his mate 'Tubby' mentioned above] Comment left on 30 December 2022 by John Stanton
My great great uncle Jack Newman flew and taught the airmen how to drop the torpedoes at training. He was with HMS owl - I have his photos. He got married and was killed 6 days later. Comment left on 07 March 2023 at 13:12 by Deborah strawford
It is so interesting to read more about HMS Owl and see more photos of personnel as Fleet air arm Museum has very little information on RNAS Fearn. The Tarbat Discovery Centre in Portmahomack has a concrete practice on display in our car park Which I have researched about concrete torpedoes and how they were made. Comment left on 05 April 2023 at 11:32 by Douglas Gordon
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