Latitude 35°32'30"N Longitude 00°32'02"W

 

ACQUISITION Lodger facility for an RN Air Section on Twelfth Air Force fighter station. Later Lodger rights for one squadron.

 

ESTABLISHED March 1943

 

COMMISSIONED 03 May1943

 

PAID OFF 23 December 1943

 

WITHDRAWN RN Air Section withdrawn on 23rd December, 1943.

Lodger rights last used 07 December 1944

   
O.I.C. Lt. Cdr J.R.S. Thompson
   
FUNCTION Fleet Requirements Unit

Support of disembarked aircraft

 

SATELLITE TO R.N. Air Section, North Front
   
ADDRESS R.N. Air Section,
RAF Station Tafaraoui,
Oran,
Algeria

N. Africa

 

LOCALITY

The airfield is located 18 miles S. of the port of Oran, adjacent  to the Se shore of the Great Sebkha Salt Lake .
LANDMARKS The Great Sebkha Salt Lake. The port of Oran.
ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS  
   
   
CONTROL Control Building

 

ELEVATION ? ' above M.S.L.

 

RUNWAYS Two, approx N/S & ENE/WSW


--/-- QDM. ---° ----° .... --- x -- yds. 

 

TRACKS Not known.

 

OBSTRUCTIONS Navigation Not known.
Circuit Not known.
Approach Not known.

 

APPROACH Not known.

 

WIND INDICATOR Not known.
   
   
HOMING - VISUAL By day Not known.
By night Not known.
HOMING--RADIO D/F Not known.
Beacons Not known.

 

APPROACH - VISUAL By day Not known.
By night Not known.

 

APPROACH - RADIO Not known.

 

COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT M/F & H/F Not known.
VH/F Not known.

 

GROUND RADAR Not known.

   
   
ACCOMMODATION It is not known what arrangements were made for lving quarters .

 

R.N. Air Section comprised of:

Officers: 3
Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings: 40

 

ARMOURIES Not known.

 

COMPASS BASE Not known.

 

DISPERSAL Not known.

 

HANGARS Not known.

 

Number /Type Size Door Height Door Width
       
       
       
       
 
MEDICAL Not known.

 

METEOROLOGICAL Not known.

 

FUEL AND OIL Aviation - Not known.
M/T - Not known.
Oil - Not known.
   
TEST BASE Not known.

 

TEST BUTT Not known.

 

WORKSHOPS Not known.

 

EXPLOSIVES Not known.

 

BOMBING AND FIRING RANGES Not known.

Air to air

 
Air to ground and R. p. Firing  
Live and practice bombing  
Practice bombing  

Assault training

 


 

 

List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location

 
727

 

Fleet Requirements Unit

Detachment (?) from RN Air Sect North Front operated here 26.05.1943 to 07.12.1944

Equipped with Defiant TT.I.


728

 

Fleet Requirements Unit

Detachment (1) from RN Air Sect North Front operated here 11.05.1943 to 15.06.1943

Equipped with Swordfish.


779 Fleet Requirements Unit

Detachment (?) from RN Air Sect North Front operated here 27.10.1943 to 21.05.1944 .

Equipped with Beaufighter II.


813 Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance Squadron

Detachment (6) operated here 10 - 13.11.1943

Detachment (6) operated here 08.05.1943 to 1007.1943

Main base at RN Air Sect North Front.

Equipped with Swordfish II.


820 Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance Squadron

Disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE 07 - 14.04.1943

'Z' flight disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE  18.04.1943 to 26.05.1943

Operated Albacore I.


826 Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance Squadron

Moved here from RAF Bone 30.05.1943. Departed for RAF Takali 28.06.1943

Operated Albacore I & Swordfish I.


885 Fleet Fighter Squadron

Disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE 15 - 22 .03.1943

Disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE 09 - 14 .04.1943

Disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE 01 - 04 .05.1943

Disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE 02 - 14 .06.1943

Equipped with Seafire Ib.


888 Fleet Fighter Squadron

Detachment (?) from RN Air Sect North Front operated here 08 - 14.04.1943

Detachment (?) from RN Air Sect North Front operated here 30.04 to 03.05.1943

Moved here from RN Air Sect North Front  03.06.1943

Embarked in H.M.S. FORMIDABLE 14.06.1943

Equipped with Martlet II.


893 Fleet Fighter Squadron

Detachment (?) from RN Air Sect North Front operated here 08 - 14.06.1943

Equipped with Martlet II.


 

 

A French Naval aerodrome twelve Miles southeast of the city of Oran, Tafaraoui was captured by the allies on November 9th 1942 as an objective if ‘Operation TORCH’ - the allied invasion of North Africa, The airfield was to be the operational base for the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa.

The Fleet Air Arm arrived on the station the day after it was opened for allied operations; a detachment of 6 Swordfish IIs of 813 Squadron arrived from RN Air Section North Front on the 10th, they stayed for only four days before returning to Gibraltar. The Navy did not return to Tafaraoui until March 1943 when the Seafire Ibs of 885 naval air squadron disembarked from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE on the 15th before re-embarking eight days later on the 22nd.

An R.N. Air Section was established on the station in March 1943 comprising of 3 Officers and 40 Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings under the command of Lieutenant Commander (P) J.R.S. Thompson R.N. On May 3rd 1943 the section commissioned as H.M.S. CORMORANT II, The section was a satellite to RN Air Section North Front, Gibraltar, H.M.S. CORMORANT and was responsible for providing shore based support for aircraft disembarked from carriers operating out of Oran and detachments from squadrons based at RN Air Sect North Front.

The first arrivals for the Air Section were a detachment of Martlet fighters from 888 naval air squadron based at RN AS North Front, Gibraltar on April 6th, 1943. The following day the Seafire Ib’s of 885 naval air squadron and Albacore Is of 820 naval air squadron flew ashore from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE, they both re-embarked on the 14th; the Martlets departed for Gibraltar the same day. 820 'Z' flight was put ashore from H.M.S. FORMIDABLE on April 18th and they remained here until May 26th when they re-joined the carrier.

A second detachment from 888 arrived here on April 30th, together with the return of 885’s Seafires on May 1st. The Martlets departed for Gibraltar on May 3rd and the Seafires and 885 returned to their carrier on the 4th. A second detachment of 6 Swordfish IIs of 813 Squadron arrived on May 8th for operations with the Northwest African Coastal Air Force and they were to remain until after the launch of operation ‘HUSKEY’, the allied invasion of Sicily in early Ju,y.

A lone Swordfish from 728 Fleet Requirements Unit at North Front arrived on the station on the 11th to provide a drogue towing service for vessels and anti-aircraft fences in the area. The Albacores& Swordfish of 826 squadron arrived on May 30th, having relocated from RAF Bone, they were joined by the Seafires of 885 which flew ashore from FORMIDABLE on June 2nd for one final visit to the station; they were joined by the Martlets of 888 squadron which moved here from RNAS North Front on the 3rd. Both 885 and 888 embarked in FORMIDABLE on the 14th. Also present during June was a detachment of Martlet fighters from 893 from North Front which operated here June 8th – 14th.

728 returned to North Front on June 15th after operating here for just over a month, the FRU task was next taken up by a detachment of 4 Boulton Paul Defiants of 727 Fleet Requirements Unit which flew in from North Front on June 25th; they were to be the resident RN unit for the remainder of the Fleet Air Arm presence on the station. 826 departed for RAF Takali, Malta the following day.

On July 10th the 813 squadron detachment departed for RN Air Section North Front leaving only the Defiants of 727 FRU in the care of the Air Section.  This situation remained until a detachment of Beaufighters from 779 FRU at North Front arrived on October 27th.

H.M.S. CORMORANT II was paid off and the RN Air Section withdrawn on 23rd December, 1943 but lodger rights for a single squadron were retained.


779 squadron Beaufighters continued operations until May 21st 1944 when the squadron disbanded; the last naval aircraft, the defiant target tugs of 727 Fleet Requirements Unit were withdrawn when the unit disbanded on December 7th 1944.


 

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

 

Admiralty Fleet Orders:

658/44 —RN. Air Sections at Gibraltar and Tafaraoui—Address

 

Last modified 09 September 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The personnel of R.N. Air Section Tafaraoui with the Defiant Target Tugs of 727 FRU. Photo: Courtesy of Peter Langsdale whose father RAF Flight Sergeant CFW Langsdale is pictured 6th from the right in the front row.

 

 

 

 

 © 2013 Tony Drury www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk


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