One of the best things about undertaking a project such as Defence of the Realm is hearing from the people who were actually there, their friends/comrades and their families. This week I was contacted by David Boulding whose father served with No.812 NAS of the Fleet Air Arm during the first half of the war. The squadron operated off the carrier HMS Ark Royal before the vessel was torpedoed by a U81 on November 13th 1941.
From then on the squadron operated from Gibraltar flying their Fairey Swordfish aircraft primarily on anti-submarine operations to protect the entrance to the Mediterranean. December 1941 was a particularly busy time for the squadron and David’s father was in the thick of it as his logbook shows which David has kindly contributed a picture of.
On December 22nd, a Swordfish from No.812 NAS attacked and sank a U-boat operating under the cover of darkness using radar to detect it. This signalled the turning of the tide in the war against the U-Boats (see Denying Dönitz the Dark ).
Normally, to save space I scale down the images I use on the site but in this instance I have uploaded the original image so this piece of history can be examined in detail.
This is a snap of my father, Lt Cmdr Basil “Byng” Boulding’s log book for 812 SQR operating out of North Front not long after the sinking of the Ark Royal (he told me he didn’t get his feet wet and flew off). That month he flew 72 hours 25 minutes. It must have been exhausting! Sadly his first log book went down with the Ark because he was active right from September 1939 in one of the first events of the war.
He made several attacks on submarines including one confirmed hit Dec 16th. You’ll see the note on the 20th December where he flew with Lt Philips and PO Reason.
I found a note about that period at North Front in an article about his TAG (P Reason) on the internet when he or his family were selling his medals (sad that). I have also a photo (above). My father is second left (the small one) and his TAG, Reason extreme right. This was when he was awarded his DSC. This photo is to be found on the Imperial War Museum website.
– David Boulding
I would like to thank David for sharing this piece of his family’s history.
If you have photographs or have a family story you wish to share on Defence of the Realm than you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website or social media account.